THERE was no champagne, no flowers and no confetti, only a slightly battered tin can.

The bonhomie of the 2010 rose garden moment had for the most part vanished.

As Dave spoke, Nick looked bored and stared, not at the Westminster feral beasts but directly into the PM's ear. And, when the DPM spoke, Dave returned the compliment.

Loading article content

The vows were said in loveless language that deflated headline-seeking journalists, who asked: was the marriage on the rocks?

The PM replied: "I hate to spoil the party but let me put it this way: we are married, not to each other; we are both happily married. This is a Government, not a relationship...To me, it's not a marriage, it is, if you like, a Ronseal deal; it does what it says on the tin."

As the PM turned into Creosote Man, Nick couldn't resist it and quipped: "You could call it the unvarnished truth." The hacks wished he hadn't.

Both partners insisted there would be no divorce before May 2015 even though their respective family members cannot stand the sight of each other.

When Dave responded to queries about his remarks at the weekend, suggesting he wanted to stay PM until 2020 by saying a blogger had written later that evening "it's 20.51 and he's still Prime Minister", his attempt at humour again fell flat.

One intriguing moment occurred over the subject of Lord "Tubby" Strathclyde, who chose yesterday to announce his resignation from Government.

After Dave paid a fulsome tribute to the ex-leader of the Lords, Nick chipped in, saying: "Can I also pay tribute to Tom Strathclyde. I told him this morning he can enjoy his stated retirement from frontline politics in an unreformed House of Lords ... for some time to come."

Was there bitterness there given the Tories had blocked the LibDems' desire for the second chamber to be elected?

Earlier, we learned Nasty Nick would be using a weekly half-hour London radio slot to turn himself into Nice Nick.

Given his party's low poll ratings, Mr Clegg appears to be concerned not so much with his relationship with his tin-wielding Coalition partner but with his and his party's relationship with the vote-wielding public.