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The Cameron & Clegg Show

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Analysis by Political Editor Ian Kirby

From the Rose Garden, Downing Street

They weren't quite finishing each other's sentences, but it was pretty close.

Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg had one clear and unequivocal message for their own parties and the country as a whole - this is a new kind of politics, so you'd better get used to it.

This afternoon's joint press conference of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister contained the first fascinating glimpses into the new world of a coalition government.

And the joint statement issued by both parties about the detail of their political deal shows how much detail they have now mapped out for the next five years.

The Lib Dems will be able to campaign against Trident, the Tories will oppose electoral reform. The Lib Dems will object to the construction of new nuclear power stations.

  
David Cameron admitted he is expecting "a few bumps along the way" and Nick Clegg told us we would all have to grow up and get used to "a new sort of politics."

He is right, there is a lot for people to get used to.

What was most fascinating was the revelation that Clegg and Cameron clearly realised very quickly they would be able to do a deal and sent their negotiators out to thrash out the detail.

That's very, very different from Labour's position of protecting their manifesto pledges at all costs.

And it confirms my hunch yesterday that the Lib Dem leader only opened talks with the Labour Party so he could turn around to his own Party and inform them he had tried to do a deal with Labour but they were not up for it.

And it is clear we will be seeing a lot more of this double act, potentially every day.

Nick Clegg made it pretty clear that although his main job as Deputy Prime Minister will be to take responsibility for political reform, he intends to spread himself across every area of government.

Under Gordon Brown, the blast doors between the Cabinet Office and Downing Street were kept locked, with only a select few being granted a pass. Now they are permanently open.

These two men have thick enough skin and enough self-belief to see the project through. When David Cameron was asked if he still thought the biggest joke in British politics was Nick Clegg, his Deputy merely raised an eyebrow.

But the problems will come sooner then we might expect. How long before a Lib Dem Minister is publicly fuming because his or her pet project has been killed off by a Tory Chancellor?

The joint agreement is comprehensive, but it will take two years, maximum three, to enact. What happens after that, before we get to a General Election now laid in stone for 2015?

The revelation that it will now take 55% of MPs, instead of the usual majority of one, to win a motion of no confidence and therefore dissolve the government means David Cameron could probably stay in power even if the coalition collapses.

 

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