CAMERONAndrewParsons:Getty

Martin Kettle reads the life line of the British coalition:

There may be coalition tears before bedtime. But, if not, there is an intriguing alternative. Four years down the line, if the economy is reviving and the liberal programme is secured, will the coalition partners run against each other in 2015, or will they be tempted to run for the coalition's re-election? An electoral pact to support one another under the alternative vote system would make a lot of sense. If that happens, then the May 2010 political realignment could last for a decade and more.

Massie nods. What has struck me is the evident delight both leaders exude in forming and presenting this deal. Why? They won't say this in public, but the election result hit a sweet spot for both men. Cameron has a trump card against his own right wing, and is obviously happier debating with Liberal Democrats than with ornery Euro-skeptic back-bench Tories. Clegg gets a chance to govern and reform, and doesn't have to return to the perennial bearded backwater of Lib-Dem fractiousness.

In other words, Clegg has done for the Tories what Blair did for Labour and Cameron tried to but couldn't quite achieve for the Tories. He has re-branded the party by association. Without Cameron, it would never have worked. With Cameron, it's a strangely perfect and unpredicted match. For Whiggish Tories like me, who want a balanced budget, civil liberties, de-centralization and a strong environmental policy, its hard to think of any other formula that would have delivered that result more comprehensively. And yet few of us saw it coming.

The Clegg-Cameron team reminds me a little of the young Clinton-Gore team in 1992. It's more than the sum of its parts. 

(Photo: David Cameron climbing the stairs in Downing Street. By Andrew Parsons via Getty.)

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