But there we were. It's a great reminder of what pack animals we are. Deep in the Tory crush of us, men leant in close to other men's necks to talk to (or sometimes bite) each other. We hardy few had been there all afternoon (talking, biting) and suddenly, just after 5pm when the ballot closed and the door was locked, a great crowd built up and stretched halfway down the corridor in both directions into the darkness.
If you stood on the step and looked out, you saw what politicians see: upturned faces. I have to tell you, it has a strange attraction. Be very careful of looking back.
Luckily, the door was unlocked and everyone started moving. "Officers first!" Keith Simpson MP shouldered his way in front of boy soldier Mike Penning MP. The tribe went in, the pack, the scrum in their delicious dark, sodality.
The results came out over the loudspeaker and when it came to Davis there was a sharp intake of breath. "Goodbye David," one of the broadcasters said. If he says that on air then it probably will be.
The MPs filed out but no one was very interested in them any more. It was our turn now. We were in the judgement seat. We were making up our opinions so we had to examine very carefully and very profoundly what it was that everyone else thought. The spinsters started moving through the pack, explaining why the result was the best possible vote for their man. Davis was in the lead, just as he always was. Fox had the momentum. Cameron was going to win in the country. And Ken ... No one came spinning for Ken, no one toiled for Ken Clarke, the most popular Conservative in the country, even among those who didn't like him. The fact is, he is a model of behaviour and an example to us all. Especially the young.
Which leads us to David Cameron. He has survived it all (small as the "all" may be). Running the Tory party for the next few years will be very much harder than running the country. I hope he doesn't exhaust himself. Some of these older Tory MPs look like the second day of the Somme. They've been gassed and crazed by bombardment, they're sustained by irrational beliefs, possessed of Euro-demons. I know, it's what I feel myself. Is the plucky young subaltern really capable of managing them?Reuse content