Andrew Grice: It was the right speech for David Cameron. It came from Nick Clegg

Inside Westminster

After two weeks of chaotic government, the politician said: “It's time to get back to governing; providing the leadership and focus the people of Britain deserve in these difficult times… Our priorities must be people's priorities: boosting business, creating jobs, helping with the cost of living.”

The speech should have been made by David Cameron. Revealingly, it was made by Nick Clegg. On the same day, the Conservative Prime Minister delivered a watered down version of his Liberal Democrat Deputy's "we must get back on track" message. After backbench Tory revolts over Europe and gay marriage, Mr Cameron told his MPs he would not bring forward more socially liberal measures like same-sex marriage.

True, it was easier for Mr Clegg than Mr Cameron to rebuke the fractious Conservative Party. Yet the Prime Minister's more conciliatory tone suggested weakness rather than strength. The Liberal Democrat leader also spoke out of deep frustration. After this month's Queen's Speech, he wanted attention to focus on two important reforms being introduced by Liberal Democrat ministers – on social care and a flat-rate pension.

Conservative splits and claims that a close Cameron ally attacked Tory activists as "swivel-eyed loons" created a perfect Tory storm. Although the Liberal Democrats are currently more united, disciplined and grown-up than their senior partners, the Coalition as a whole suffered some collateral damage. Insiders report that Mr Cameron was left rattled and bad-tempered by the incessant pressure from his own party. He managed to disguise it well in his calm and assured response to the horrific act of terrorism on the streets of Woolwich. The Prime Minister is good in a crisis, something his Tory critics should remember.

They won't. They don't give him much credit. Events of the past fortnight have reignited plotting against him by Tory MPs determined to force a vote of confidence in his leadership. It melted away when Margaret Thatcher's death reminded Tories they are all in the same family. I doubt there will be a confidence vote but the usual suspects are talking about one again. To trigger such a vote, they require the backing of 46 of the 304 Conservative MPs. "We would need 90 to have any chance of getting him out," one rebel said, explaining that Mr Cameron could squash a revolt by 46 of his MPs and carry on but could be fatally wounded if about a third of them voted against him.

There is relief in Labour circles that the Tory trauma has turned the media spotlight away from its own problems. Yet Labour cannot afford to relax, as the spotlight will soon fall on it again. There are growing rumblings about Ed Miliband's leadership amongst Labour MPs. There is no plot to oust him, but he is under growing pressure to spell out more clearly what his One Nation Labour vision would mean in practice – and how his party would cut the deficit. Labour MPs worry that an economy that is recovering in 2015, however slowly, would leave their party looking backwards. They fear Labour is too stuck on talking about what it would do now rather than what it would do in 2015.

Mr Clegg, pictured, is not without his Liberal Democrat critics but, bizarrely, most speculation about his leadership prospects seems to be fuelled by Conservatives. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, claimed two weeks ago that Mr Clegg was blocking Tory childcare reforms to fend off a leadership challenge by Vince Cable, the Business Secretary. It was widely seen as a diversion from Tory divisions.

Privately, Tory ministers continue to talk up the prospect of Mr Clegg being toppled by his own party before the general election. I detect an element of wishful thinking here. It would suit the Tories for the Liberal Democrats to have a centre-left leader like Mr Cable in 2015, as he would have a better chance of wooing back the centre-left 2010 Liberal Democrat voters who defected to Labour when the Coalition was formed. That would boost the Tories' chances in the Labour-Conservative marginals that will probably decide the election.

Mr Clegg has no intention of veering left to chase these voters. Similarly, talk of the Coalition ending before the 2015 election seems to emanate from Tories rather than Liberal Democrats, although Mr Cameron joined Mr Clegg this week in insisting it will last until polling day.

The Liberal Democrat leader believes detaching his party from the "big bad Tories" six months before the election would not fool the voters and wants to fight it on the Coalition's record. "We can't disown what happened in the previous four-and-a-half years," said one Clegg ally. "You can't dive off the board and then change your mind just before you hit the water."

Who is the only party leader not facing internal grumbling? Step forward Nigel Farage. The "swivel-eyed loons" row was another gift for the UK Independence Party leader, who continues to spook the other parties. Mind you, when you are a one-man band, it is difficult to lead a rebellion against yourself.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'