The Chancellor's fiscal conservatism means he won't deliver the tax cuts demanded by the right or the spending increases demanded by the left.
Rather than appealing for tactical votes from UKIP supporters in the Eastleigh by-election, the Tories should have supported a voting system that ends this dilemma.
With some reservations, Labour is inching towards accepting the Tories' proposal of a Royal Charter to underpin a new press regulator.
The "game-changing" pledge may be seen as just another slippery politician's promise.
The Chancellor's decision to freeze the inheritance tax threshold at £325,000, rather than raise it to a £1m, is an opportunity to put the principled case for the tax.
With the Tories in second place in 38 of the Lib Dems' 57 seats, Labour will need to consider whether to tacitly advise its supporters to vote for Clegg's party.
Spending on the bloated Common Agricultural Policy has been increased, while spending on infrastructure and other growth projects has been cut.
The Conservative candidate for the Eastleigh by-election said in 2005: "I don't care about refugees".
Both parties have to make clear how they would cut the cost of living, increase the supply of housing and help low-paid workers.