Charlotte Henry:

Lib Dem diary: A non-existent curry house plot

Lib Dem diary: A non-existent curry house plot

The Lib Dems scraped through last week's conference mainly thanks to Mike Thornton, the new MP for Eastleigh. The mood certainly wasn't doom and gloom, but it might have been had he not won the by-election to replace Chris Huhne.

Open plotting and insubordination were actually not on the agenda in Brighton last weekend. The Independent did try to find conspiracy though, saying party president Tim Farron and his staff went out for a curry – which clearly equates to a 'curry house plot'.

I can exclusively reveal what was discussed at that meeting.

The topic of conversation was the plight of Farron's beloved Blackburn Rovers, not the plight of the Liberal Democrats.

Lest you be sceptical, I've actually had the pleasure of having a curry with Team Farron at a previous conference up in Newcastle. On this occasion, Tim was more concerned with regaling us with stories about his time as a student in the city than launching a coup.

Frankly, if the people were going to cry 'plot' every time Farron and his team went for curry they would waste a lot of ink indeed. This particular tandoori takeover is worthy of little more than fish and chip paper.

The same though cannot be said of the Lib Dem’s Conservative coalition partners, who seem to be continually on the verge of mutiny. From Theresa May to Liam Fox, Tory rank and file seem desperate for someone, anyone, who can secure them a majority.

At Liam Fox's IEA speech the sense of insubordination was palpable. So much so that Steve Baker, the libertarian Conservative MP for Wycombe, positioned himself on the front row and asked a question about debauching the currency, seemingly supporting Fox.

Now Baker is involved in the IEA where Fox was making the speech, so it is perfectly reasonable to be attending the high profile event. I'm not sure if he was fully signing up to 'Fox for leader', but few people I spoke to dismiss the possibility.

As well as a not dissimilar economic vision, Baker joined Fox in voting against equal marriage, and a Conservative source said he could imagine Baker supporting Fox in a leadership contest. Backbench support for any future leader is obviously crucial.

The problem for Cameron is not one or two out riding MPs, but a growing movement around those who think he has cut too little, not too much.

Charlotte Henry is a freelance political commentator and blogger. For more news and views, sign up to her weekly Despatch Box e-newsletter and visit