Speaking yesterday on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Tory MP Nick Boles said that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats should form a pact at the next election.
Rider on the storm
"The government is going to come under enormous pressure over the next few months and years and so what I'm saying is, if we've spent five years together governing, we've got the same record to defend. Surely it would make sense that in each constituency there's one coalition candidate who's representing everything that we've done and everything that we want to do over the following five years ... An electoral pact would make an enormous difference in making sure that every backbench MP, however small their majority, has an interest in sticking with the coalition until the election in 2015."
Such a pact between the coalition partners would have a clear benefit for the Conservatives, making a deal between Labour and the Liberal Democrats after the next election impossible. That is quite a prize for the Conservatives. It would mean that David Cameron would continue as PM as long as the two parties between them held a majority of seats in the Commons.
It is less clear, however, what the Liberal Democrats would gain from it. Yes, it would help more of their MPs survive, but it would tie their hands ahead of another hung parliament and massively reduce their ability to claim that they are a distinct political party rather than just an adjunct to the Conservatives.
Boles is a key figure in today's Conservative party and a member of the Cameron circle. That he is publicly floating the possibility of an electoral pact shows that it is a subject of discussion amongst those at the very top. Notably, David Cameron’s spokeswoman did not slap down the idea when asked about it later. Clegg’s people, on the contrary, are busy trying to pour cold water on the idea.
[I'll bet you a fiver he's the next communications director - Ed]