‘David Cameron and Nick Clegg get coalition better than anyone else in the government’ one Downing Street aide remarked to me recently, and watching the two men at today’s press conference you could see what they meant. Us hacks who came looking for disagreement or awkward body language went away disappointed.
As they both talked about how the coalition had come together to deal with long-term challenges and, to quote Cameron, the ‘positive benefit’ of two parties working together on these issues, I wondered if they thought that a second term of coalition might be needed to deal with Britain’s long-term problem. Intriguingly, when asked Cameron refused to say that if he had a majority of one, he would definitely govern on his own.
But one of the odd features of today’s conference was how both leaders were trying to get in their respective campaign slogans in as many times as possible. Cameron did better than Clegg on this front, getting in four global races to Clegg’s two ‘stronger economy in a fairer society’.
There were no new announcements at today’s conference; Downing Street is hoping to dominate the news agenda with a new announcement a week between now and the Budget. But the message that the coalition wants us to take away from today that it is here, still working and going to make it to 2015. I have no doubt that this is what the respective officer classes want. But their challenge is going to be persuading the poor old infantry to follow their lead on this.