So let's review the spin:
Elwyn Watkins, the defeated Lib Dem candidate in the May, 2010 General Election subsequently brought a successful legal case against the winning Labour candidate, Phil Woolas (who won by a mere 103 votes) after two high court judges had ruled that he had told lies about Watkins in campaign literature.
If there was any sympathy with Watkins he should have won this seat by a landslide. Instead his lack lustre campaign, unusual for the Lib Dems in any by-election, gave Debbie Abrahams, the Labour candidate victory by, wait for it, 3,558 votes. The Tories were nowhere.
Clegg then smugly argued that he is pleased with the result as it shows the Lib Dem vote holding up. Holding up? They should have walked it.
Cameron seems emotionally to have sided with the Watkins case - given he had had the nerve to challenge Woolas - and given a good Lib Dem vote would help his Coalition to stay on board. He guessed it right even if his own local party was unhappy.
The test of Clegg's love-in with the Tories will be the May local elections.