Last night Centre Forum held their summer party. The cross-party think tank which styles itself as "the liberal think tank" has been an important source of ideas for the Liberal Democrats since it was started by the philanthopist Paul Marshall (pictured above at the event with Nick Clegg).
CF had good relations with Conservatives for some time with Greg Clark and Michael Gove, notably, involved with it before the election. Last night there was a significant mingling of people from both governing parties. Paddy Ashdown and Danny Alexander, for example, were there from the Liberal Democrats. Dominic Grieve, Michael Gove and David Willetts were there from the Conservatives.
Mr Marshall announced a significant strengthening of CF's Board. David Laws is to become CF's Chairman and the existing board will include a number of extra Conservatives including Nicholas Boles, Daniel Finkelstein, Andrew Tyrie and David Willetts. Ex-Labour Minister for the City, Lord Myners has also joined the Board.
Julian Astle remains the Forum's Director after his aborted move to the Treasury. Mr Astle had been due to become Special Adviser to David Laws but the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury had to resign for well known reasons.
Centre Forum is well established to be a leading part of the Coalition's future.
Nick Clegg spoke only briefly to the event but predicted that life for the Coalition would become much easier in the second half of the Parliament. He predicted that the benefits of the Coalition's public sector reforms would start to materialise in years three, four and five and so boost the government's standing.
Less encouraging for the Coalition was Mr Clegg's jokey reference to the World Cup final. He abandoned any loyalty to Holland – his mother's home nation – at half-time because of their ugly behaviour and started cheering, without reservation, for his wife's home country, Spain. A warning to the Conservative Party not to be too rough?