Jim wrote earlier this month about the trouble the fixed-term parliaments bill has run into in the Lords.
Now it has finally passed, some Lib Dems think it could mark the end of coalition government altogether, at least under the current first-past-the-post voting system.
Lib Dem MPs broadly fall into two categories in their attitude towards the coalition: those who relish it as a chance to get their ideas enacted in government and those who think it was a regrettable necessity given the electoral maths and economic crisis.
Those in the second group say the reason for having signed up in the first place is that the alternative (negotiating with a minority Tory government about what would be allowed through) would have been unstable. At the first sign of not getting their way, the Tories would have called a second election, at which they may well have won a majority.
The fact that the UK now has fixed term parliaments means the largest party could not simply to decide to dissolve parliament and go to the electorate. This in turn would mean, according to some Lib Dems, they would be under no obligation to enter into another coalition with either party: they could work with a minority government on a “confidence and supply” basis without the fear of another election being called.
But for those in the first group (including, obviously Nick Clegg and those around him), this is heresy. The great thing about the coalition, they say, is that they get to enact Liberal policies for the first time in 80 years. They are praying for another hung parliament and the chance of government again, and warn their coalition-sceptical colleagues that the alternative condemns the Lib Dems to never being in government again.
Whether or not the Lib Dems enter government again (at least until there is substantial voting reform) may depend on which of these two camps wins out.