The recent revolt by the 'honest' Conservative MPs which halted the progress of the LibDem flagship 'Reform of the Lords' proposal has introduced a new conundrum to British politics. If the 90 odd conviction politicians are happy to defy the Conservative whips and will even resign from ministerial positions then David Cameron has a problem.
He is, in effect, leading a split party. On one side he has the Tinos (Tories in name only) who embrace the European Union and say 'Yes' to every Coalition proposal putting ambition above ability. Then we have the conviction politicians who support traditional conservative values and are not afraid to demonstrate their integrity. They also include some pretty powerful and able MPs who could cause considerable embarrassment to their leader.
This poses another problem for the embattled David Cameron. If he cannot persuade his full party to back LibDem proposals then what is the point of the Coalition? The Lib Dems have this sandal wearing image but they have some pretty nasty pieces of work in their ranks (not least Lord Oakshott). They won't hesitate to retaliate.
That should signal the end of cooperation between the Tories and the LibDems which might be greeted warmly by local party activists. There are large swathes of England where Labour supporters are as rare as rocking horse manure. The only fixture in town is Tory against LibDem.
Will that mean that any meaningful government will be paralysed until the next election in 2015? If that becomes the case then surely the question is not will the Coalition survive but should it? This country cannot afford three years of fratricidal warfare.