It was Nick Clegg who fired the starting gun. Straight into his foot. It was 7.30 and no one was there because only drug addicts, brokers and political activists are up at that hour.
"We must do something different," he said. "We've got to do something new."
Here's something new: With the polls tightening towards a hung parliament this will be the election that everyone loses. Is that different enough?
But will these new politics be good for Britain? Maybe not, but they'll be good for trade, my trade – as they are, essentially, chaos.
For his launch, Gordon came out dressed in his Cabinet. It suited him. We don't often see him surrounded by such ordinary people. And yes, he told us he came from an ordinary home in an ordinary town. What an unusual idea of ordinary he has. We were to understand that his opponent came from an extraordinary home and therefore the Government couldn't recommend we vote for him. It's never easy to understand exactly what Gordon means by the things he says but I think I've unpacked that correctly for you. He said, "The future is within our grasp." It never really is though, is it? Isn't that the point of the future?
He told us again about his family but missed the only really effective family line left to him. An eye-catching initiative, now that he's taken to bringing his family into the frame: "Twins! We're having twins!" That would cut the Tory lead by half. "Where some would seek to cut growth by having a single child, our support of the pregnancy sector when seasonally adjusted and regionally weighted is actually triplets."
Harriet was standing in for Sarah Brown there, next to and behind the PM in the loyal position. That was the place she had negotiated for herself after the Hoon-Hewitt coup, if you remember. Her price for coming out against the plotters she had earlier been encouraging was this smiling place at her leader's broad shoulder.
Meanwhile, the Tories had scooped them by getting into the news schedules first. A surge of party workers and supporters formed a micro-climate of political activism there on the South Bank. Girls in pumps. Young men with gel in their hair (was it gel? They are Tories, remember). They came streaming out of County Hall and surrounded an empty platform. They arranged their faces. They limbered up. They were the doughnut waiting for their hole to be filled.
And there he was with his fragrant wife and a Bryan Ferry flick of hair on his noble brow. He appealed to our higher selves, telling us "we can't be any worse than Labour!" Also important were "the road to ruin and the path to prosperity". Without sounding judgemental about it, he seemed to have a pretty solid idea about which one we should go for. He didn't say why, however.
He also revealed that he was campaigning on behalf of a new sort of voter: The Great Ignored. Bit brave that; they're ignored for a reason, mate. My advice is to steer clear of them.
He also suggested there was going to be "a whole new way of doing things". The new politics again. They'll be conducted with the leaders on mescalin. Maybe he'd started without us as he promised "a whole new economic model". What? An entirely new one? That's a big job, that. Hard to know what it might look like. If it involves Bentleys for sketchwriters, I might be tempted, but maybe the conceptual framework needs a little work before polling day.
What will the public make of all this? Their opinions move as the polls move. The public adjust their thinking as they see what they said they thought.
At Independent meetings there's a healthy majority for a hung parliament. Maybe that's what's trimming and tacking the vote.
Post-launch, off they all went into the world of real people. Gordon's version was peopled with that rolling maul of snappers, videographers, lobby correspondents, boom-carriers, security men, hardmen, advisers, aides, clipboard-carrying grid tickers, and Sarah Brown – barging shoppers out of the way as they rushed from one handshake to the next.
"Very nice to meet you, goodbye," he said again and again. And sometimes, "Thanks for all you do."
"Thanks for all you do"? What in the name of our sweet, suffering saviour does he think that means? Who does he think he is? Who are they to be thanking us for all we do?
Anyway, here we are and there they are. Let's see what we can get out of them over the next four weeks.Reuse content