Nick Clegg got through probably the most nerve-wracking two minutes of his political career intact after a low-key but thoroughly telegenic debut at prime minister’s questions.
He avoided jokes – you end up looking desparate if nobody laughs. He didn’t try to be too clever. Instead he got away two questions on the government’s response to rising energy prices and fuel poverty. On the telly he looked serious and concerned. And he left the chamber unscathed.
That is about as good as he could have expected. The main thing was he did not stumble and bumble his way through his debut, as did Ming Campbell, his predecessor. Having survived he can try to be more ambitious, aggressive and funny next time.
But I was more interested at the apparently genuine attempts at flattery of Mr Clegg by David Cameron and Gordon Brown. Mr Brown spoke about their "private meetings" and how he wanted to work with him on common projects where they agreed.
Both know they may have to turn to Mr Clegg’s Liberal Democrats if – as seems possible – the next election produces a hung parliament. While Ming Campbell was a close friend of Mr Brown, the prime minister cannot rely on the support of the more right-leaning Clegg to keep him in power.
Would the Lib Dem leader do a deal with the Tories? I doubt if his activists would let him. But that does not mean he would necessarily prop up a defeated Labour government. He could do deals on an issue-by-issue basis with the biggest party.
In any case when he utters the magic Liberal Democrat word "equidistance", I reckon he intends to put more distance between his party and Labour than would ever have been imagined by either Sir Ming or – going further back – Paddy Ashdown.