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Tuesday 16th October 2012 | 16:58
It's a good thing nobody pays any attention to the party conference season.
If they had, they would have heard Nick Clegg proclaim his party's "courage and vision" in making Coalition Government work.
Fast forward a month, swap Brighton for Westminster, and the Liberal Democrat leader could be found defending the Coalition's plans to legislate for a redrawing of constituencies, a redrawing which his party will then scrawl all over and vote against, before winding up any Tory MP who suggested that might just, well, be a bit off.
For vision, read shortsighted-ness.
But for courage, however, Clegg is true to his word, striding to his front bench seat to await repeated blows to the back of the head from his so-called Tory coalition partners.
And he looks ever more exposed.
For where once the robotically calm shape of Mark Harper stood at Clegg's side and smooth-talked the Tory thugs, now his ally is Chloe Smith, late of a short-lived posting to the Treasury and a Paxman-ing of the most violent kind.
But as Tory MPs love to hate Clegg yet more, Clegg, it seems, loves to be hated.
And especially when the hating is done by Peter Bone, an MP whose main role is to perform the verbal equivalent of repeatedly flicking Clegg behind the ear.
The idea of serving under a Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister leaves poor Peter in deep discomfort, and gripped with a paranoia – or a 'morbid fascination', suggests Clegg – over who would lead the country if David Cameron died.
Today, after taunting Clegg by suggesting the Tories had delivered AV – "Delivered the opportunity for AV…" he corrected himself as Liberal Democrat MPs slipped into collective reverie – he cut to the nub of the matter.
Would Clegg resign for going back on his promises over the boundary review?
"We are honouring the coalition agreement by putting the boundary review legislation on the statute books… but we are not, for the reasons I have already explained, going to vote for the changes", Clegg replied, putting vision in practice.
Next up came an interesting example in how to make Coalitions work - heap abuse on your governing partner's party chairman.
"I have also read in the papers reports that the chair of the Conservative party wishes to strike a deal with us on the boundaries in return for a party funding deal. I suppose, Mr Speaker, finally that’s a get rich quick scheme that he’s proud to put his name to", Clegg added, aiming a sharp jab in the ribs of Conservative Party Chairman/entrepreneurial guru Grant Shapps/Michael Green.
"More!" shouted the Labour benches, while further down the front bench the glum-faced Andrew Mitchell, currently on permanent display as the Labour Party's stuffed trophy, briefly felt the warm glow of someone else's discomfort.
Clegg obliged, joking that the chances of him u-turning on his boundary review u-turn was as likely as Bone collecting the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the EU. For good measure, he later turned on Tory MP Bernard Jenkin for struggling to get "his head around the idea of coalition."
Jenkin, like Bone before him, seethed, and if he was watching on, Shapps was probably doing the same.
But if anyone else pays attention to Deputy Prime Minister's Questions, then the art of marking coalition government work will have left them baffled. Boundaries of good behaviour? They were torn up long ago. Now that's courage.
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