The Sketch: It was all going to plan, but whose plan was it?

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The Independent Online

One of the new young ones was asked for his voting intentions. He paused on the top step, turned to the small crowd below and said: "I am a man of honour and principle. Qualities that are in short supply in this place!"

An older MP beside me sighed. Then he said: "We do breed 'em, don't we?"

Another of them marched decisively through the hacks, decisively ignoring questions, speaking decisively into his mobile phone.

Had it switched suddenly on to speaker-phone we would have heard: "At the third pip it will be ... ". At the third pipsqueak it will be ... Mark Simmonds.

Sir Nicholas Winterton gave a little glimpse of what might have been: "If I'd known then what I think is going to happen now, I'd have bloody well stood myself!" David Cameron's young teller, a new MP called Tobias Ellwood, looked up from his list: "Who was that?" he asked. Everyone laughed. We assumed he was joking but then, observing his amiable Tim-Nice-But-Dim face, I can't say for sure that he was.

The BBC made us laugh by calling out: "Mr Tapsell?" The air in the corridor darkened slightly around Sir Peter's vast head. He has been known to correct shop girls who make this mistake in his constituency. It's why he has such a large majority in Horncastle.

A little pointillisme: Owen Patterson said he was what Americans call an FRL (Former Regime Loyalist). Derek Conway told us: "It's all going according to plan, but I'm not sure whose plan." Alistair Burt confessed: "Tomorrow, I'm yesterday's man." A colleague murmured: "Maples revealed he hadn't voted for Cameron in the first round but he's switched to him, but from Davis not Clarke, which is who we had him down for."

More comprehensibly, William Hague declared: "I am not a doughnut!" That wasn't right. "I am not a donor!" That was more like it. "Don't know," I was told. "I am not a don't-know."

That's a very roundabout way of denying gay sex rumours. I've noted: Hague didn't deny gay rumours. That should make a headline in The Standard. And after his little speech they'll have Sir Nicholas Winterton in a gay smear row (he didn't deny it either). "Crispin! What's that tie you're wearing?" Blunt said it was a Dragoons tie, without denying he was involved in gay sex rumours. It can only mean one thing.

Clarke-ites voted for Davis to stop Fox. Cameron voters voted for Fox to stop Davis. Some just dithered. All the countervailing forces cancelled each other out, and when the result was declared, the loser turned out (according to Camp Davis) to be Cameron.

How's that again? More people voted against Cameron than for him. The right has a majority in this democracy. Sorry, you fellows: minority support won't stop Cameron becoming Prime Minister. It hasn't stopped Tony Blair. But one thing is clear: being Prime Minister will be easier than leading this opposition.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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