‘The roots of what happened on the night of Thursday 8 December lie deep in Cameron's failure to modernise the Tory party. Just because he puts party interest before the national interest, there is no reason others should do the same. That is why I make a genuine offer to Liberal Democrats to work with us to try to get a better outcome for Britain, between now and when this agreement is likely to be finally tied down in March. Work can and should start immediately both to win back friends and allies and to consider what rules and procedures can avoid Britain's further marginalisation.
My message to Lib Dems would be that, over the next few years, the public will reward politicians who show serious statesmanship, not shrill showmanship in the face of economic events none of us has witnessed before and the outcome of which remains uncertain.’
It never made much sense for Labour to freeze all relations with the Lib Dems, not least because they could, in theory, be looking for a coalition partner themselves after the next election. Yet, even now that Team Miliband has thawed its rhetoric, Nick Clegg still remains as a major barrier to any general LibLabbery.
The Deputy Prime Minister may have grown more tired and irritiable with the coalition recently, but he is still one of the key ties binding it together. As I've said before, much of his leadership has been about shifting the Lib Dems away from being a party of straighforward tax 'n' spend, towards being one of spending cuts and public service reform. Which is to say that — despite Europe — his politics seem to align more happily with Cameron's than with Miliband's. It would be rather surprising were Clegg to respond favourably to these latest overtures.
The concern for Clegg, though, is that these overtures start to appeal to other Lib Dems. Were that to happen, more and more of his party might think it's time for a change of leader: not just to escape from the Tories and their Euroscepticism, but also to help forge the sort of pre-election pact with Labour that could, just maybe, spare the yellow bird of liberty from utter irrelevance afterwards. Either that, or they just defect.