Cameron and Osborne have very shrewdly shoved Clegg and Cable out as the vanguard of the Regressive Coalition, ensuring that at the least, the public associate the pain of the cuts with both parties and at best, they may even put much of the blame onto them. You wonder if Cameron took advantage of the parliamentary camera angles on Tuesday to conceal himself behind Osborne and let Alexander and Clegg bracket the Chancellor on the TV screen. Cameron has even managed to absent himself for a summit in Canada, ensuring that the picture show him bestriding the world stage and not answering questions about his government's attempts to accelerate the country into depression.
You have to admire the genius of the strategy just as you admire the willingness of the Poor Bloody Infantry of the Liberal Democrats to keep on going over the top whenever the donkeys at Conservative GHQ send down the order.
From Clegg's disastrous performance on the Today programme and an earlier poor showing on the Breakfast sofa to Vince Cable's distinctly uncomfortable appearance on Question Time, the Tories are letting the Liberal Democrats take the heat. Even the cuts are being led by Danny Alexander and Clegg's Sheffield took a beasting as part of the process. The only one with his head above the parapet this week has been Osborne, who is so disliked on sight by the public that he is hidden away from them during campaigns. Even the 'Meet the People' show on the BBC yesterday had Clegg and Cameron doing their double act - Cameron wasn't going to allow all the ordure to land on him.
All this is designed to keep Cameron as shielded as possible, for he is believed to be their unique selling point. This is the New Politics - the Liberals take the pain, Cameron will take the credit.
Genius media management.