On top of the tensions that inevitably arise when a deputy has a tendency to upstage his boss, there’s also a misalignment of Clegg and Cbale’s interests in the event of a hung parliament. For Cable, who will be 67 when the new parliament convenes, a hung parliament is probably his last chance of being a minister. Cable seems keen on the idea. Indeed, his enthusiasm for briefing the newspapers about the prospect of him being Chancellor in a hung parliament has already led to him having to apologise to the permanent secretary of the Treasury for misrepresenting a meeting he had with him.
By contrast, the 43 year old Clegg loathes all the talk of coalitions. The one time he got testy in his interview with The Spectator was when we pressed him on what he would do in the event of a hung parliament. Clegg, if he plays his cards right, could have twenty years ahead of him as leader of the Lib Dems. So preserving his and his party’s reputation for independence is more important to him than getting his hands on a Red Box.