Lib Dems' big test
"It will be a difficult budget... it will be controversial... one of the hardest things we will ever have to do."
So says Nick Clegg in an e-mail to his party members on the eve of the Budget.
His only words of comfort to them are to insist that "the alternative is worse - rising debts, higher interest rates, less growth and fewer opportunities" and to assure them that "we have taken the difficult decisions with care and with fairness at their heart."
Tuesday will, in many ways, be a bigger test for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats than it is for George Osborne and the Conservatives. For the first time, Lib Dem members will learn the true extent of the pain to come, the limits on their ability to protest about it and the unpopularity that comes with being in government.
The Treasury is making clear that both Danny Alexander as chief secretary to the Treasury and Nick Clegg as deputy prime minister were consulted about all the key measures in the chancellor's speech - a level of consultation unheard of when Gordon brown was chancellor. I'm told that Vince Cable was also able to discuss the broad Budget straetgy with George Osborne whilst other Liberal Democrats were kept informed by their leader.
The Conservatives concede that this Budget will be more progressive than it might have been thanks to pressure from the Lib Dems. In particular, they have argued successfully for a bigger increase in income tax allowances than Team Osborne originally wanted.
Even more striking then that, in Nick Clegg's own words, this will be "one of the hardest things we will ever have to do".