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Here's a short extract from COALITION. In this scene, Liberal Democrat leader and deputy Prime Minister Matt Cooper tries to extract a favour from left-wing Energy Secretary Geoffrey Webb.

Matt: Okay, look. I agreed with Richard that I could come out vociferously against his council plans - but on the basis that I make a concession to him in due course. That's what I need to talk to you about. We may now need to make a few, er, course corrections in our attitude to energy policy in the next few months.

Geoffrey: You did a deal?

Matt: I invoked the public differentiation clause.

Geoffrey: What public differentiation clause?

Matt: In the coalition agreement.

Geoffrey: There is no such clause.

Matt: It's a private public differentiation clause.

Geoffrey: I led the coalition negotiations. There is simply no such clause.

Matt: Some things had to be worked out... leader to leader.

Geoffrey: You put me in charge of those negotiations, and then rewrote the agreement behind my back?

Matt: Look I knew it wasn't what you wanted, but Jesus, Geoffrey. If people got just a quarter of what they ever wanted over a course of a lifetime they should go to their graves dancing with joy.

Geoffrey: And this clause enables you to stage a squabble without destabilising the government? Why have such a thing?

Matt: I have to appease my left wing just as much as Richard needs to appease his right wing. So, from time-to-time, we confect a little row.

Geoffrey: So let me get this straight. You and Richard have some secret deal. A deal only you and he know about, so that every time you need some cheap publicity you are allowed to condemn or criticise something he's done, staging some synthetic argument, on the proviso that sometime later he can extract something out of you?

Matt: Pretty much the size of it. It started off with some little policy rows here and there, but this time I have united our local government base. This has been a show-stopper.

Geoffrey: This is unbelievable.

Matt: We needed a victory. I've got the youth and student conference next month. They'll love this. And it will put paid to the usual slow hand-clap of my keynote address.

Geoffrey: You did a squalid policy deal with Richard to buy off a bad reception for a speech from some poor Lib Dem youth and students? You really are something else.

Matt: Geoffrey, our youth and students are close to lunacy. They're our bloody provisional wing.

Geoffrey: There is nothing wrong with youthful idealism.

Matt: One of them asked me if I enjoyed putting the "n" into "cuts".

Geoffrey: A bit of high spirits, that's all.

Matt: What were the ridiculous motions they passed last year - free porn for paedos and rights for goldfish...?

Geoffrey: [exploding] It was a policy about animal rights - not specifically goldfish - and I drafted it-

Matt: Geoffrey, calm down. There is no harm done. We have re-asserted our identity in the press. That's a good thing. And with a little bit of help from you, Geoff... mate.

Geoffrey: I wondered when we were going to get to this. What was the blood price then, Faustus? What have you sold now?

Matt: It's a little thing really. Richard would like... Richard and I... I would like... You're going to have to... I need you to... not yet, not immediately. But if in six months' time we could...

Geoffrey: For Christ's sake, what do I have to do?

Matt: Announce a huge new programme of nuclear power stations to be built in the UK over the next fifteen years.

Geoffrey: What?

Matt: Announce a...

Geoffrey: No.

Matt: Oh, come on - it's only a few reactors.

Geoffrey: You said "huge programme".

Matt: Well, it's a small... huge programme.

Geoffrey: How many?

Matt: What?

Geoffrey: Reactors. How many?

Matt: [Consults file] Twelve.

Geoffrey: Twelve!?

Matt: In phase one.

Geoffrey: How many phases are there?

Matt: Four.

Geoffrey: I have been telling my constituents for decades how emphatically opposed I am to nuclear power.

Matt: Well tell them it was nothing to do with you.

Geoffrey: I'm the Secretary of State for Energy.

Matt: And that's why you're here. We have to be flexible about these things. Politics requires a bit of elasticity sometimes.

Geoffrey: Nuclear power is a failed technology.

Matt: Don't start that. You know my views. These things are improving all the time. It's progress. We're Whigs. We believe in progress.

Geoffrey: The proliferation of nuclear power in the UK is a line in the sand for Liberal Democrats over which we will never cross.

Matt: Yes, but-

Geoffrey: And we will say emphatically no to a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Matt: You're quoting from something aren't you?

Geoffrey: Our last manifesto, you moron.

Matt: Right. Yes. Must remember to update the website. But we have to compromise. I've promised Richard that this is going to happen. Our opposition to nuclear is bonkers. Fossil fuels are now controlled by powers well beyond our sphere of political or economic influence. If we want to maintain our twenty first century lifestyles we need energy independence.

Geoffrey: You've never admitted that before.

Matt: Didn't need to. We've never been in power before so nothing we said was really that important.

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