When the date of the Scottish independence referendum was finally announced in March it sent Liberal Democrat HQ into panic.
The Lib Dems realised instantly that polling day would clash with their long-organised annual party conference. The party was faced with a dilemma.
Did they plough on with a conference when many of their big names would be absent on the campaign trail and they would be limited by strict broadcast rules surrounding elections? Or did they suffer significant financial cost and change the date?
In the end the party decided that it had no choice but to move the conference until after the referendum.
Over the coming months David Cameron will face a similar, though perhaps less acute problem, without any recourse to date changes.
While there is no clash, the referendum is just nine months before the next General Election, no time at all in political terms. It may be almost two years away but 2015 has already hoved into view for MPs in a way that seems scarcely credible outside their Westminster "bubble".
Within Downing Street there is no sense that the referendum must be won first and then the General Election; both battles are being fought simultaneously. Senior Conservative sources are emphatic - they want to win both.
There is a genuine passion among many senior Tories for Scotland to remain part of the UK. But no government wants to lose one major election just months before they go to the polls in a second.
The Conservatives are also certain that both elections have to be won well - to prevent Canadian-style "neverendums" on independence and any chance at all they will be forced into another Coalition with the Lib Dems.
Recent weeks have provided just one example of how David Cameron's Government could be torn in two different directions at once over the next year. The West Lothian Question - Scottish MPs' votes on issues that do not affect their constituents - has dogged successive UK governments. Last month it emerged that the Coalition is planning "English votes for English laws", risking accusations it wants to make Scottish politicians "second-class MPs".
The expected timings of the policy are extremely interesting. The Coalition will announce the plans before the independence referendum, but implement them only after 2015. The clear message is that this is a policy designed to appeal to English voters in 2015.
Political observers might suggest that it is better to err on the side of caution. Why risk antagonising Scots before the referendum? The answer is what one senior Coalition figure described as the "extreme anger felt in the south of England" on the issue.
Downing Street insiders believe most Scottish voters will be "relaxed" about the plans. But they concede that there will undoubtedly be some who will be antagonised by the move.
The effects of individual policy announcements at this stage are impossible to tell. And all governments have to juggle competing priorities. But David Cameron's Government faces a difficult balancing act over the next 12 months.
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