The Sketch: Another year of Gordon slowly decomposing in public

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The Independent Online

This is more like it, the political gets physical. Two women were late, they were trying to get into Committee Room 14 where the Parliamentary Labour Party was convening for its weekly meeting.

They were small but important. Big Ronnie Campbell took the lead. He guided them through the crowd, approached the big oak door, turned the handle and took a two step rush to force it door open. It gave a bit, we got a glimpse inside of a crush of bodies. Little Lady Royal, leader of the House of Lords, bent forward to see if she'd be able to get inside but it was hopeless. Ronnie took his shoulder away and the door snapped shut. The place was full, like a box of chocolates.

Outside, the corridor was lined with us hacks. Usually it needs a Tory leadership election to pull this crowd. Labour MPs, unused to the attention, strolled, or marched, or oiled or snaked or limped along the gauntlet, depending on their physical or emotional disability. They used a variety of expressions to express the seriousness of the situation. "Ah," said Lord Foulkes, seeing Quentin Letts, "there's the wee shit!" "Harsh but fair," the Mail's sketch writer observed placidly.

Barry Sheerman was actually running (but he'll never get into the Lords like that). Jack Straw walked by with a slow rising spring in his step. Ruth Kelly made her way sideways, wearing her strange, other-worldly smile. The Eagles in formation. Backbencher David Taylor - "Still no word?" "Nothing!" he said (the plotters haven't contacted him by whisper, by anonymous email, by any means at all. What a pathetic excus for a conspiracy, it may not even exist.

And as for the cabinet! "Jellyfish?" one said, "Don't slander jellyfish! Jellyfish sting!"

Gordon arrived in the middle of his blockers, his body guards. "Hi guys!" he said. No one said anything back. An MP was in the way but bumph! not for long. They bounce, those lefties, if hit hard enough.

In he went, through the correct door (that doesn't always happen). And he did get in so it was a success up to that point. After a while the party noticed he was there and he got a rumble of applause and some banging. At the end, about half an hour later (he does go on) more long but muted applause.

The peers emerged, trooping off obediently as if to the guillotine. Foulkes told us en passant that Charles Clarke had spoken and no one clapped. He's got a nasty streak, Foulkes has. But so has Charles, it's why we like them.

From the outside it sounded like reluctant acquiesence.

So, there we are (if we are in fact there, wherever it is). Another year of Gordon slowly decomposing in public, on the gibbet of his own design. It's something on which optimists and pessimists agree.