There is a lot of a talk around 'the quad' at the top of the coalition - Cameron, Osborne, Clegg, Alexander - but the daily running of the coalition goes beyond these four key figures. The intriguing powers behind the throne are spread between the two parties, and are a collection of MPs and officials entrusted with keeping both parties, and the public, happy.
Francis Maude is one of the key fixers on the Conservative side. This is apparent both by his position in the Cabinet Office, a department at the heart of the mechanics of government, and the sheer range of issues he gets involved in, from currently dealing with pension reform and strikes, to publishing the recent government's strategy on cyber security. He is not often sent out to bat in the media in same way that, for example, Michael Gove is, but behind the scenes he is extremely significant.
In a similar position is Oliver Letwin. He may have been damaged by the recent embarrassment of being caught dumping papers in the bin, but he is a highly regarded thinker, with a keen eye for wonkish detail, and a crucial part of the coalition’s policy making sausage factory.
In his role as David Cameron's parliamentary private secretary, Des Swayne is a critical link between No 10 and the backbenches. The extent of the trust placed in him is revealed by the fact he has been at Cameron's side ever since he took the leadership of the Conservative Party. In the recent row over Europe, along with the Whips, Swayne just about managed to stave off a mass rebellion by his fellow PPS.
On the Lib Dem side David Laws remains a key back room player. He is both a vital and long-term ally to Nick Clegg, as well as well liked by the Conservatives. Laws recently told the IEA's Mark Littlewood that he 'prefers' beavering away' to being a leader, and away from Cabinet this is exactly what he does. For example, it is thought he was working out of the department for education prior to the launch of his cornerstone Pupil Premium policy. Fiercely loyal to both Clegg and the government he helped negotiate, Laws is now the only Lib Dem backbencher not to have rebelled.
Simon Hughes and Lorely Burt, as deputy leader and chair of the parliamentary party respectively, may not always directly feed into the government, but are critical in letting Clegg and his team know the mood of the infamously free-minded Lib Dem parliamentarians.
In modern politics, there are also highly influential figures who are unelected. Policy guru Steve Hilton undoubtedly has the ear of the prime minister, much to the ire of the Conservative Party’s more...unreformed...elements. Newcomer Olly Grender (acting deputy director of communications) is also a very strong Lib Dem voice within No 10, having previously worked for the party and been the Lib Dem pundit of choice over the election. Clegg chief of staff Jonny Oates is similarly influential, as a long term Clegg confidant, while Julian Glover, ex-Guardianista and now the prime minister's speech writing voice, and pollster Andrew Cooper, play integral roles in the messaging of the government.
Government is always about key people dynamics, but in coalition this has proved to be even more critical. It’s not just about hugs in the rose garden, but a complex web of personality politics that plays out on a daily basis.