Mick Jagger, Samuel Beckett and Nick Clegg

Tony Blair’s fascination with Mick Jagger is well-documented but any politician would respect his gift for survival and undying flair for performance.

He also knows something about life in a coalition. His latest supergroup, SuperHeavy features AR Rahman, Joss Stone and Dave Stewart. “Everyone had to subsume their egos to some point,” he explained. “There wasn't really someone who was ‘the boss.”

Last week, Tory MP Nadine Dorries called on David Cameron to show Deputy Prime Minister Clegg who is “the boss”.

And, yesterday, Mr Clegg used a London School of Economics speech to warn that there was “little margin for error” as the economy reels from a “dramatic change” in the international situation.

Coming on the same day that unemployment has hit 2.51 million, Mr Clegg has demonstrated his willingness to play melancholic notes. He seems to enjoy a genuinely good working relationship with his Conservative jamming partner but he is definitely the most likely of the two to strike a wistful tone.

Just last year, shortly before the May Westminster election, he described his love of Samuel Beckett.

Claiming to have read Waiting for Godot 100 times, he said: “The unsettling idea, most explicit in Godot, that life is habit – that it is all just a series of motions devoid of meaning – never gets any easier. It’s that willingness to question the things the rest of us take for granted that I admire most about Beckett; the courage to ask questions that are dangerous because, if the traditions and meanings we hold so dear turn out to be false, what do we do then?”

His readiness to acknowledge the frailty of the economic situation contrasts with the traditional tub-thumping we might expect. There is no insistence that a golden economic age is around the corner; just a pledge to make sure Government bucks deliver the biggest bang.

If the most crucial asset for recovery is investor confidence, a stark admission of the scale of the challenges facing Britain may be more assuring to the business community than a denial of reality.

Quite what Mr Cameron makes of his deputy’s mood music is unclear, but neither man is likely to be in a photo-op with Mr Jagger in the near future.

The last song on the new album, I Can't Take It No More, features the lines: All you scurvy politicians, crying endless contrition. It really gets my goat, it sticks in my throat.”

The Rolling Stone explained: “They find themselves the prisoners of practicalities and realities.”

Quite. Mr Beckett and Mr Clegg might have said something very similar.

A Thursday column.

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