The storm clouds in Glasgow are meteorological rather than political

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Vince Cable and Nick Clegg.
Storm clouds in Glasgow are meteorological not political. Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

The leader is safe (by and large). Vince is on message (mostly). And the storm clouds in Glasgow are meteorological ones (rather than political).

And so the Lib Dems roll into their conference week at the SECC in Glasgow - which keen observers will note is north of the border - and the part of the United Kingdom which will on Wednesday mark a year to go to the independence referendum.

And it is those Lib Dems members of independent thought who have grabbed most attention so far.

There was a row brewing.

A row over the economic direction of the party. They are debating it on the stage right now.

Liberal Democrat merchandise at the party conference.
Liberal Democrat merchandise at the party conference. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

A left wing group of the party - known as the Social Liberal Forum - has tabled an amendment which urges the party to ease up on austerity.

Vince Cable - the often independently minded Business Secretary - hadn't planned to turn up to vote.

Nick Clegg called it a "storm in a tea cup" but the facts are that Vince Cable has now been dragged to the hall and he will vote in the economy motion.

The leadership case is that now is not the time for the Lib Dems to wander onto a different path.

Just as the economy is going right - the argument from Mr Clegg's office goes - we can't afford the Tories don't "Hoover up" all the credit for the upturn.

We've done the hard yards - why change course?

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg listens to a debate at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg listens to a debate at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow. Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

The Clegg/Cable "civil war" - as some newspapers have called it - is nothing of the sort. Aides to the Business Secretary say he was always supportive of the leader's position on the economy. But he had "speech prep" blocked off in the diary this morning (Cable's speech is at 12.30).

Dr Cable, however, made it to other meetings this morning - his argument that he was too busy to make it to the hall looking more than a little thin.

What is true is that Vince Cable likes to go "freelance" every so often - particularly at conference.

So it now look as though Nick Clegg will win. If he loses (and it won't be binding anyhow) it will be a blow at a time when the Lib Dems are looking fairly resilient - despite some dreadful polls.