So Nick Clegg didn’t show up in the Commons today, because he didn’t want to be a distraction.
A distraction from what? A distraction from the fact that he is the most pro-European leader in UK political history, now propping up the most anti-European government.
A distraction from David Cameron’s latest effort to present his diplomatic failure as some gigantic political triumph, egged on by right-wing MPs and a media that on the basis of one snap poll has decided ‘public opinion’ is right behind him.
Public opinion is a very complicated concept, formed of the opinions of millions of people on millions of issues. On this one, as I said on Friday, David Cameron will get a short-term hit out of being seen to stand up to Germany and France even if, as Ed Miliband rightly pointed out, he achieved precisely nothing in his use of the veto. As the full implications of economic and diplomatic isolation become clearer, the worry that he has done the wrong thing for the wrong reasons will grow.
That is when Clegg will need a little bit more credibility and strength in argument than he has right now. One of the big points to make is that Cameron cannot have influence over key decisions when he has vacated his chair at the table.
All the more pathetic that Clegg vacated his chair today. He should have been in there, making clear to MPs and to the country that he intended to fight his corner. Instead, he went off in a rather pointless sulk.