Page last updated at 15:32 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 16:32 UK

Rose garden was like the 'Dave and Nick Show'

Nick Clegg and David Cameron
Forgotten feud: Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg put their "new politics" into action for the first time

By Gary O'Donoghue
Political correspondent, BBC News

It's 2.15pm in the Downing Street rose garden and welcome to the Dave and Nick Show.

Not quite Eric and Ernie, still less Ant and Dec, but it's what we've got until Thursday 7 May 2015, if the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have their way.

Hard to think that these two men were tearing strips off one another as recently as last week.

The election campaign saw David Cameron accusing Mr Clegg of holding the country to ransom.

Mr Clegg accused the Tory leader of breathtaking arrogance.

Both sides relinquished some proposals that, if you listened to them in the campaign, you would have thought were imprinted on their very hearts

But all that's been ironed out, and they've even been sitting together inside Number 10 doling out cabinet jobs in stereo.

New politics? You bet.

It's also instructive to see which ideas and principles people will compromise on when they have to.

Both parties have just published the negotiating document on which they finally agreed; seven pages of policy give-and-take which saw both sides relinquish some proposals that, if you listened to them in the campaign, you would have thought were imprinted on their very hearts.

'Love-in opt-outs'

So, Tory plans for cutting inheritance tax - that gets postponed until at least the next parliament and any money not spent doing that will help towards increasing tax thresholds in line with Lib Dem demands to charge no income tax on the first £10,000 of earnings.

Equally, remember how vehemently Nick Clegg attacked David Cameron over his cap on non-EU immigration during the prime ministerial debates?

Well, Mr Clegg is now signed up to pushing his MPs through the government lobbies to introduce such a cap.

The Lib Dems have retained a couple of modest opt-outs from the general love-in.

Namely that they will abstain over Tory plans to recognise marriage in the tax system; and will continue to argue against new nuclear power stations.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg entering Downing St
Together, but they need to keep their parties with them

On the latter, of course, Mr Cameron will see that as an easy 'give', since Labour broadly supports replacing antiquated nuclear power stations, so they will get built, whatever the Lib Dems say.

Not so easy for Mr Cameron is the agreement to whip his party through the Commons to establish paving legislation for voting reform.

He has, of course, stopped short of supporting such reform in a subsequent referendum, but many Tory MPs will have to hold their noses in supporting the principle of a change to voting at all.

Likewise many Lib Dems within the parliamentary party and the wider membership will be dismayed at the fact that Mr Cameron has given no ground at all on his approach to Europe.

The euro is definitely ruled out for this Parliament and there will be referendums if any more powers are to be transferred to Brussels.

'Art of the possible'

A small detail that's escaped the attention of many is that both these parties have agreed that their government can't fall on a vote of confidence unless 55% of MPs vote against them.

For hundreds of years, votes in the Commons have been based on simple majorities - you get one more than the other lot and you win.

It's no longer the case - a little tweak of the system aimed at securing the current regime in its place.

Both Dave and Nick talked a lot of a "new politics" today, quite sensibly finding a new language to turn pragmatism into principle.

But many will give them the benefit of the doubt for the time being - after all, you can't have it all your own way all the time - politics is the art of the possible.



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