Clegg's coalition

AS Nick Clegg embarks upon another damage limitation exercise following injudicious remarks by Lib Dem Ministers, and most notably Vince Cable, his party needs to remember that it is now in government, and this entails certain responsibilities.

Unlike Mr Clegg, whose partnership with David Cameron is, in many respects, the political story of 2010, it is clear some of his party would prefer to be in permanent opposition rather than shaping the formation of policy.

It would, perhaps, be prudent for the Deputy Prime Minister to remind his sceptics about the Lib Dem policies that are now being implemented by the coalition.

Likewise David Cameron. There are several in his party who need to be told that it would be virtually impossible to push through the spending cuts, and welfare reforms, as a minority administration.

This has been an embarrassing end to the year for a coalition that has probably exceeded initial expectations, irrespective of the motives of the newspaper behind the "sting" operation and the undue influence of some in the Westminster commentariat who will not rest until the Government falls.

That said, it serves as a timely reminder for the need for absolute probity and transparency on all decisions after the coalition promised a "new politics" when it was formed.

Of course, the issue of student tuition fees has been a chastening experience for the Lib Dems – this is why the party is facing unprecedented levels of scrutiny – but, above all, this is a time for the party to hold its nerve.

The benefits of coalition government will not be felt now when the decisions being taken are so divisive. They will not become clear for another two years when Britain is, hopefully, enjoing an economic upturn as a result of the strategies agreed in 2010.