I am beginning to think that Dominic Cummings has driven Nick Clegg round the bend. The Lib Dem leader should want this row over universal free school meals to go away; it is a massive distraction with elections only six days away. But he can’t help himself from keeping it going.

So, today we have a joint Gove Laws op-ed in The Times declaring that they are not at loggerheads over the policy. This is accompanied by a news story which reveals that Clegg demanded that Gove write the piece. The piece also reveals, rather unhelpfully, that some schools are not on track to deliver the policy in time for September.

Not content with this, Clegg has been busy stoking the row in his morning interviews. He doesn’t seem to realise that he has a lot to lose while Cummings has nothing to lose. Every time, Clegg attacks Cummings, Cummings responds in kind and the story keeps going. As I say in the magazine this week, I really can’t see how Clegg or the Liberal Democrats’ interests are served by this.

Cummings’s latest blog happily admits that he wants to keep this row going. But what is genuinely baffling is why Clegg is doing everything that Cummings wants him to do. Someone needs to tell him to stop responding to Cummings’s attacks. If he continues like this, he is going to get dragged deeper and deeper into a war that he can’t win.

PS: If you have a minute, do read Cummings’s latest blog post. It surpasses the script of any political satire.  ​

Tags: Coalition, Conservatives, David Laws, Dominic Cummings, Free school meals, Liberal Democrats, Michael Gove, Nick Clegg, The Times