Free school meals will be offered from September. (Reuters)
Political party leaders love to have something real to announce in their big annual conference speeches, and the Liberal Democrats still can't quite believe their leader can unveil polices that will be anything more than unrealisable fantasies.
For decades, the party has developed policies secure in the knowledge they would never be in power to enact them. That explains some of the dafter motions that have been adopted at past conferences.
So for Nick Clegg to be able to tell his annual rally that, thanks to his role in the coalition government, all infant school children are to be offered free school meals from September next year is a genuine breakthrough.
There will be arguments over the benefits of the scheme; the fact that the poorest kids already get it, that many parents will still prefer to offer packed lunches, and questions over how the £600m giveaway will be financed in a time of austerity.
But the announcement has already been greeted with delight by the LibDem conference delegates who are being encouraged to believe it is only because of their influence in government that such policies could be forced onto the nasty Tories.
Except, needless to say, it isn't quite like that.
The deal under which Clegg has been allowed to announce the policy included the quid pro quo that David Cameron will be able to announce tax breaks for married couples at his conference in two weeks' time. Everyone is happy.
But the deal is already starting to creak amid Tories fears that Clegg's successful conference season has seen him and his colleagues attempting to grab the "caring" tag while re-attaching the "nasty party" label to their coalition partners.
And, when Labour is determined to make the cost of living the central issue at the election in 2015, there are worries that will further see the LibDems benefiting at the expense of the Conservatives.
So, within hours of Clegg announcing the school meals policy, the backlash had started.
Tory MP Robert Halfon, who has been leading a campaign on free school meals in colleges, pointed out that Clegg could only announce the policy because he had the full backing of Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove and the prime minister.
"It does not matter that Nick Clegg announced it," he told ConservativeHome website: "The policy...would not have happened without Michael Gove.
"It is up to all of us, as Conservatives, to own this policy and shout about it from the rooftops."
And that is the danger for the Liberal Democrats. Whatever the deal is between them and the Tories, when it comes to addressing the issue of living standards and "nice" policies, they all want a piece.
So there will be a string of Conservative ministers who will use their party conference to shout from the rooftops that it is they who have been the primary architects of these policies.
They are even likely to lay claim to policies that were originally pushed by Clegg and his team.
And, thanks to the timing of the conference season, it is they, and David Cameron in particular, who will have the last word.
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