This afternoon Nick Clegg will become the first Liberal to face questions to a prime minister since Lloyd George in 1922, and the first ever Liberal Democrat to face prime minister’s questions as they were formalised in 1961.
After his successful performances on the television debates during the campaign, you might think this would be a pushover for Clegg. But PMQs is a strange beast, where prime ministers (or their deputies) can suddenly be blindsided by an unexpected question or have to face the mocking laughter of a packed House after an unconvincing answer.
So Clegg has done the sensible amount of preparation, locked away for the morning with a team of his closest advisers, plus Danny Alexander, George Osborne and Michael Gove, all firing questions at him.
The presence of Tories on the preparation team – brought in for their experience with helping Cameron prepare for these events – makes these PMQs doubly unusual. I can’t think of an occasion when a politician would have been advised by members of another party before PMQs (Cameron’s team are solely Tories, I am told).
At the real thing, he will have to face the vastly more experienced Jack Straw (it is convention that if the PM is away, the leader of the opposition also hands over to someone else).
Clegg and his team expect Straw to take the obvious route of trying to identify differences between the deputy PM and his coalition partners. But there is usually an easy answer to those questions (“That’s the reality of a coalition and we’re doing this for the good of the country…”), so Clegg should be on his guard for a more wily line of attack.