Unfortunately, I had to give my apologies for Council last Thursday. It was doubly unfortunate, however, as according to my blogging colleague Gill Cartwright, I missed
"the group hug between us [and] the Lib Dems before we went into the chamber and rumours of joint group meetings!"
From her experience of the NHS, Gill can't see what the problem is with the ConDem tie up at national and presumably now at local level. Maybe I'm showing my naievity here, but I'm staggered that the 2 parties here are contemplating a formal arrangement in advance of the next local elections.
Particularly for the LibDems, closing off options by formalising a relationship with the Tories at this early stage seems very brave. Mike Barker has spent a deal of time and effort establishing his party as a distinctive third voice in local politics. He will appreciate what his smaller party has to lose from being irrecoverably linked with the town's right wing group.
I guess local LibDem and Tory parties will respond differently to the coalition around the country - it seems here in Darlington they may effectively work as a single entity. Quite how the electorate respond is anyone's guess.