Waiting, waiting, waiting in Westminster Hall. Then a statement from the Liberal high command that left us wondering what we'd been told. Then a blizzard of new technology – voicemail, email, texts and twittering – created a pack of fat, galloping hacks thundering up Whitehall to hear the Prime Minister, then we were all racing back to our screens and phones for the rush to judgement.
What a first day back in Parliament. This is the new MPs' Orientation Week and suddenly nobody knew which way was north.
Far more hacks were there at the foot of the steps of Westminster Hall than there are Liberal MPs. The deal – whatever deal it was – had to percolate through the layers of their parliamentary party in the room above.
The feeling was growing all weekend that they were edging ever closer to the Tories, that's what the headlines have been saying. Jim Naughtie declared – in a rather ultra vires way – on the Today programme that a Conservative government was "inevitable".
And yet, and yet. It is also said that Nick Clegg sent his negotiating team in to meet Mandelson's negotiating team without telling Cameron. Oo, that's not right. You can't do that in good faith. That was fishy. And then David Laws came down the steps and faced the Lobby giving off a certain sense of halibut in his pocket.
He said strong and stable government was the first priority. That sounded good for the Tories. Also that the deficit needed reducing quickly. That sounded better for the Tories.
But then he said they were "continuing to seek clarification on education funding". For some reason that sounded very fishy, that phrase. It's too detailed, like an over-elaborate lie. He also said they were "continuing to talk" to Labour.
Surely they couldn't be planning an arrangement with Labour? Surely it's too much to hope for? Oh, how we nihilists and chaoticians long for a rainbow coalition of this and that, of odds and ends, of Arthur and Martha and Caroline Lucas.
Gossip in Portcullis House said that Gordon has written a Queen's Speech with electoral reform in it, as a Bill, not as a referendum. He's pitching it to Clegg as the Anti-Tory voting system.
Then, the sprint up Whitehall to hear the Prime Minister. David Laws obviously had known this was coming. And we heard (on an iPhone relaying the Radio 4 broadcast, as we'd been locked out of Downing Street) the Prime Minister's resignation speech. Except it didn't sound like a resignation speech to me. It sounded like a bid for four months as Prime Minister, the legacy of having won an election, and of – just – lasting longer in office than Jim Callaghan.
Let it be so, we barrack from the sidelines. A progressive coalition consisting of 1) a party fighting a viciously divisive leadership campaign, 2) a party that has all the coherence and discipline of the Taliban, who came third in the polls on a collapsed vote, 3) the Ulstermen whose party can be bought for a couple of hundred million bagatelles and 4) the SNP and Plaid Cymru.
I would very much like to see how Alex Salmond and Elfyn Llwyd bring that gimcrack structure tumbling down.Reuse content