Cameron and Clegg try to put Coalition back on track

Nick Clegg (L) and David Cameron Photo: Matt Dunham/PA Wire

The strains in the Coalition have never been greater but today the two men who have largely held it together - David Cameron and Nick Clegg - will try to put it back on track once again.

They're launching a major programme of railway investment. But as usual at these events, it will be less what they say than how they say it which matters.

Nick Clegg and David Cameron hold their first joint press conference in the Downing Street garden Credit: Christopher Furlong/PA Wire

Will there be any hint of a new type of partnership - one where the men emphasise their differences rather more, the views they share in common rather less?

Certainly some Tory backbenchers are calling for a greater differentiation between the parties.

The former Defence Secretary recently pointed out that, in terms of seats, the Liberal Democrats are "a sixth of the Coalition, not half the Coalition".

Nick Clegg (L) and David Cameron during Prime Minister's Questions, September 2011 Credit: PA Wire

David Cameron told the Sunday Times that there were "profound areas of disagreement" between the two parties. But he also said it was important not to tolerate what he called "naval-gazing".

People see riots and financial instability across Europe on the television news. They will tolerate tough choices if they see that you stand up for the right things together. But they will not tolerate division and navel-gazing. They know that the problems are big and they do not want to see politicians fall out in the process of dealing with them. That is why we must rise to the challenge, recognise the extraordinary and challenging nature of the times we live in - and serve the national interest by delivering a strong, decisive and united government.

– david cameron writing in the sunday times

The railway investment plan will be an ideal opportunity for the Prime Minister and his deputy to show this is a Coalition held together by economic necessity. A nuts-and-bolts alliance with a real purpose now - but not built to last forever.