The sourest notes chime around the government's welfare cuts and the hike in VAT. Already, it's clear that the latter will be particularly difficult for the Tories and embarrassing for the Lib Dems. In an otherwise solid performance on the Today programme, for instance, Osborne sounded wobbly when it came to VAT. His central point was that he couldn't have foreseen that the tax would be bumped up until he got his hands on the books. Which would be a fairly persuasive viewpoint, were it not for the fact that the Tories had been considering a VAT hike for some time – and brushed over it during the election campaign.
In the end, the public will probably just have to stomach the VAT rise. But this doesn't make the current debate, in the newspapers and on the airwaves, any less crucial for the coalition. For the sake of it's own longevity, the government will have to do everything it can to convince its twin sets of backbenchers that the pain really is "unavoidable".