Reading through the comments on this post on ConservativeHome about the possibility of the Liberal Democrats pulling the plug on the coalition, it suddenly struck me just how far some Conservative supporters have fallen in love with the idea of the leading Lib Dems being their ideological soulmates - and of course there's nothing like the intensity of a passion that breaks into the open after being suppressed for so long. But I fear the infatuation may be causing these Tory posters to lose their sense of perspective somewhat on where the Liberal Democrat ministers' ultimate loyalties lie. (The same phenomenon has been on open display at Political Betting for weeks.) They seem to take it as a given that the Clegg/Laws wing of the party wouldn't think twice about sticking with the coalition, even if it meant the party rupturing and the left flank breaking off, either to join forces with Labour, or to form an independent social liberal alternative to both the coalition and Labour.
It seems to me that only a Tory could possibly feel that senior Lib Dems' loyalty to the coalition is - and ought to be - stronger than their loyalty to the integrity and future viability of their own party. I have no doubt Nick Clegg is philosophically very close to the Tories and desperately wants to see out the coalition's five-year term if at all possible - but on the other hand I doubt if he's keen on being the Lib Dems' Ramsay MacDonald or David Owen. If he was, he'd hardly have stuck so scrupulously to the party's laborious internal procedures during the coalition negotiations - in spite of the likes of Paddy Ashdown earlier branding them unimportant.
If the grass roots of the Lib Dems and a large chunk of the parliamentary party force Nick Clegg to choose between them and a realignment of the centre-right in British politics, I suspect (and, admittedly, hope) there'll only be one possible answer.