2. And it is thanks to the Lib Dems that George Osborne is able to get on with the essential tasks of reform of the economy and deficit reduction. Clegg and co have been lightning conductors for the occasional jagged flashes of public anger that would otherwise have gone straight down the Downing Street chimney. It is a classic British story of self-sacrifice, in the mould of Captain Oates.
3. Without Clegg to take the abuse of Left-wing educationalists, it is doubtful that Michael Gove would be bashing on so fast, and so effectively, with his programme for free schools.
4. Without Clegg and the Lib Dems – who are in the front line of fire from their former friends in the welfare lobby groups – it seems most unlikely that Iain Duncan Smith would be able to get on with his programme of benefits reform. The Tories have gone one better than the Persian emperor, in the sense that the Lib Dem leader is not so much a wall hanging as a human shield.
5. And yet Clegg can say with truth that he has put the party of Lloyd George in power for the first time in almost a century.
6. And he has used that power to deliver some sensible things – like taking the poor out of tax, a long-standing objective of the Lib Dems that ought to have been Tory policy for ages.
7. And he is, when you meet him, a very nice chap indeed.
8. His wife, Miriam González Durántez, is every bit as lovely and clever and funny as she appears.
9. He reads novels, and has all sorts of literary friends.
10. He is very good at tennis, though for some reason he always seems to lose to the Prime Minister, in what his critics might see as a metaphor for the imbalance in their relationship.
11. He speaks several languages – a mark of civilisation, in my view – including Dutch, whose accent is so notoriously hard to get right that the former Dutch prime minister Josef Luns once declared that the effort of correct pronunciation made him feel “as if he was vomiting” (his political career came to an end shortly thereafter).
12. But his Europhilia has been kept in check. As long as he is DPM, he cannot be sent to be commissioner in Brussels – a stitch-up that would cause many of us to think of joining Ukip.
13. And while he has been in office, he has effectively demolished some of the worst and most opportunistic policies on which the Lib Dems used to campaign. Take tuition fees, which they always used to promise to scrap. It is thanks to his bravery and his much mocked U-turn that British universities are now on a sound financial footing.
14. It is thanks to the utterly hopeless Lib Dem campaign for Lords reform that we have been saved from an elected second chamber, with all the attendant jobbery and feuding.
15. And thanks to the useless campaign for AV that we have kept first-past-the-post in our elections, and been spared all sorts of other jobbery and feuding.
16. Every time he half-heartedly proposes some new wealth tax, he reminds us that he doesn’t have a hope of delivering it, and he underscores the point that the Tories remain better on tax than the rest.
17. And yet he talks sense on many things. He is against a third runway at Heathrow, but sees the case for borrowing cheap to spend on infrastructure.
18. In fact, I have always thought that if you leave out Europe, he is probably a natural Tory.
19. He is certainly tough, and can take a joke.
20. And above all, amigos, it is thanks to Nick Clegg that we are not currently in coalition with Chris Huhne! Yes, before Huhne’s wife allegedly showed the world how good he was at getting his points across, it was Huhne who was seen as the man to watch. Think of that, and thank heavens for Nick Clegg.
I say again, save the Cleggster from extermination!