What am I bid?
Step into Vince Cable's office and you will see a whiteboard complete with "mind maps" plotting the interaction of party interests and negotiating strategies in the event of a hung parliament. So an intriguing piece in the FT tells us this morning.
The Lib Dems are, we learn, "war gaming" to prepare for the "auction for power" they will stage in the after the next election. The negotiating team is to be Cable, Chris Huhne and - oh, I almost forgot - their leader Nick Clegg, who let it be known at his weekend conference that he had turned down a dinner invitation chez Cameron.
What do we learn from this?
(1) The Lib Dem leadership is contemplating a deal with the Tories if the electorate rejects Labour.
(2) They know that many in their party don't and won't like the idea of their leaders trying to get "their bums" on the leather of a ministerial Rover (as Paddy Ashdown once referred to it).
(3) What's more, they know that many of their members still regard the Tories as the bitter enemy.
(4) And even trickier, some Lib Dems are suspicious that Nick Clegg is, as some have claimed, "Cameron Lite".
Thus, the reassurance to the party that:
(1) This is being approached professionally and scientifically, using game theory and advanced mathematics.
(2) Clegg's so anti-Cameron that he even turned down the chance of roast polenta and chianti at his Notting Hill home.
(3) Don't worry, Clegg won't be in charge anyway: it's Vince and Chris... and you know they're not Tories.
Now, what price Lib Dem support for a Cameron minority government?