Nestled amongst the yellow revellers at CentreForum’s Lib Dem bash late last night was none other than Greg Clark, the Tory localism and cities minister.
Mr Clark, enjoying a glass of red wine and chatting to adoring Lib Dems, had come up to conference to fly the flag of coalition – and take part in a CentreForum debate with Ed Davey, Lib Dem employment minister on ‘Next steps for localism’.
It was not entirely alien territory for the cities minister: Greg Clark used to be a member of the SDP – he went to the last SDP party conference 23 years ago.
In fact, being in the company of Lib Dems offered some respite for a minister who has had a rough run from his own support base because of his plans to relax planning laws in the UK.
The proposals have spurned a raft of vitriol from the Telegraph, which is running a “Hands off our land” campaign, while the mild-mannered minister has become public enemy number one of the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
The Lib Dems, said Mr Clark, were much more generous to him in fringe event: “I was love-bombed,” he joked. Nick Clegg has already described Ken Clarke as the sixth ‘Lib Dem’ cabinet minister, maybe if Clark gets a well-deserved promotion, he could turned into a seventh.