As we all know, David Cameron is, this weekend, a considerably weaker Prime Minister than last - as Jonathan Calder puts it the new John Major of British politics - thanks to his inability to deliver on Lords Reform. He has two main problems - firstly, he has to find a way of reasserting control over his party. And secondly - he has to find a way of keeping us 'on side' and supporting the government he leads.
To do the second, the rumblings are that he can't deliver much on Lords Reform - I've heard that the basic proposal is to replace the 92 hereditary peers with 92 elected ones, and that's it. This very minor step comes nowhere near to meeting his obligations in the coalition agreement. So if that's it, he'll have to top up any renegotiated deal with something very attractive...
Mark Pack has made some sensible suggestions of where such a deal might begin, looking at party funding reform, and wholesale redrafting of the draft communications bill. But may I venture that I have a bigger idea...
There's a cabinet reshuffle on the horizon.
And as Stephen Tall reminds us , there is one single issue that the coalition puts above all others. The economy.
So the best gesture Cameron could make would be to put us in charge of that major issue, and make Vince Cable Chancellor.
One better gesture could he make to emphasise the value he puts in the Lib Dems? Is there actually a better man for the job in the cabinet? Wouldn't the country applaud him as well?
And strangely, politically, moving Osborne out of No.11 is not as hard as it sounds. There are already rumblings amongst Tory MPs - many of whom were the rebels on Lords Reform - that they want Osborne moved after his nightmare budget. He is still (oddly) seen as the master political strategist in the party - so could easily be moved to Party Chairman, with a brief to start working towards the 2015 general election. Warsi can clearly be ditched, there seems no great affection for her in the Tory Parliamentary party. And I'm not sure Osborne would object too much. He knows he is politically weakened after the budget disasters, and what better way of restating his own future leadership credentials than spending the next three years engaging with the grass roots and the parliamentary party, developing (probably fairly unpleasant) right wing policy to present in 2015.
So Mr Cameron thats the deal - a figleaf of Lords Reform, plus Vince as Chancellor, in exchange for not blocking every piece of legisaltion for the next three years that might have given you any chance of getting your rebels onside.
I still would prefer proper Lords Reform - but if you can't deliver it, I'd take this as second best.
What do you say?