Senior Tories are debating the extent of outreach that should be made to the Liberal Democrats in the event of the Conservatives becoming the governing party at the next General Election.
Tory strategists are hopeful that the next election will see the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party significantly reduced in size but they also believe that the Conservatives have a long-term interest in ensuring that Britain's third party looks as much to the Conservative Party as to the Labour Party as a future natural coalition partner.
I understand that a group of shadow ministers believe that one of Tony Blair's bigger strategic mistakes was to row back on co-operation with the Liberal Democrats when he won such a large Commons majority in 1997. These shadow ministers believe that - contrary to Labour's 'under-delivery' to the LibDems - the Conservatives should deliver more in practical co-operation in government than they promise in opposition.
The discussion is not of ministerial positions - although there might be some significant appointments to policy reviews - but of working groups on issues of shared interest. Action on civil liberties and on green issues are on the table.
The scorched earthers are already venting their spleen in the comments, but surely this is sensible politics? I remain of the view that a Hung Parliament is still a very likely result of the next election. Of course I would like to see the LibDems obliterated, but although they are likely to lose a few seats, I don't expect them to self combust.
It is sensible at this stage to see what levels of cooperation are both desirable and achieveable. If nothing else, it will force the LibDems to decide whether they are a political party or a pressure group. Pressure groups have the luxury of spouting forth on every issue of the day with no ability to ever gain power and change things. Political parties exist because they are hungry for power and want to effect change. The LibDems have just over a year to decide which they are.