Strange as it seems, one of the easiest concessions the Lib Dems won from the Tories was a guarantee on the length of a parliament. The reason is that David Cameron is as worried about a snap election as Nick Clegg.
This is a prize the Lib Dems have sought for decades. It puts hung parliaments on a more stable footing by taking away the right of a prime minister to suddenly call an election, just when his junior partner is crashing in the polls.
Cameron would certainly relish the power go to the electorate within the next few months, should a Lib-Con pact prove unworkable or his political honeymoon prove first-rate.
But once the spending review is completed in the Autumn, Cameron knows he’ll be facing a fierce public backlash. Tory polls numbers are likely to hit the floor. The fear is that if the Tories let the Lib-Con pact run on, without a deal on fixed terms, Clegg would be able to jerk the rug from under them. Electoral disaster.
So given the Lib-Con power-sharing remains by far the most likely outcome, Britain may well be heading towards fixed terms, or some such accommodation. It is the fruit of mutual distrust.
One last point on this. William Hague said the Tories agreed that a minimal deal “confidence and supply” deal will last for at least two parliamentary sessions. But it’s wrong to think that’s the bottom line. He added that a coalition may be underpinned by a more permanent fixed term deal.