....... Well, you know the rest.
Tempted as one is to vent one's spleen over the whole bloody disaster, I will try to limit myself to a few observations and point you in the direction of those who have been energetic enough to write down their reactions on Friday and Saturday.
Idle went through the night with a dozen good friends a few miles up the road. We drank good champagne in anticipation of victory, thinking we deserved it, and drank it again at 5.30am when it became clear that the Great Cameron Liberal Appeasement Gamble had failed - this time, we needed it. At 6.15 I went home, showered and shaved, and climbed not into bed, but aboard a London train. Bloody Marys and beef 'n horseradish sarnies at the Cavalry Club revived me, and after making a poor fist of a meeting with a plutocratic property man, returned home. What struck me was that I don't remember hearing anyone laugh all day.
It is clear that, if governing Britain for the term of the next Parliament was going to be a thankless task in any event, doing it with the LibDems tying your shoelaces together and balancing buckets of water above the door into the Cabinet meeting room was hardly an improvement. They are an unprincipled and childish lot, who have never displayed a shred of consistency. Clegg is, I believe, inclined towards the Conservative Left and I see no reason why he should not eventually convert; St Vince, on the other hand, is a muddled old lefty who has flip-flopped like a freshly caught mackerel at almost every opportunity, whilst radiating faux sagacity and claiming foresight over almost everything imaginable. He, I think, is much more in tune with LibDem voters, who are well to the left of New Labour and (even) less pleasant. The point I am trying to make here is that Cameron should go it alone. He needs only to pass a budget, followed by a Queen's Speech in November. I reckon that he can get the Ulster Prods and Frank Field and Kate Hoey and one or two others to back him on this. Now that Labour is discredited, the sane ones can ignore the Brown thugs who call themselves Party Whips and vote with impunity. There are at least a dozen of them who will put nation before party.
Yet, it seems obvious that Dave is intent on building a coalition. It is becoming clear quite early on what is up for grabs. He surely cannot offer PR to Clegg, particularly in the light of Clegg's disastrous final week of campaigning and the damp squib of a loss of seats despite a marginal increase in his vote (which, given the Brown factor and the utter uselessness of the Labour government, eclipses even Cameron as Worst Result of the Night).
Low carbon mumbo-jumbo is IN, despite its cost and irrelevance (Delingpole writes less well when he is this angry, but I can see why he's fuming), whilst the ONLY good policy the tories had in their manifesto is in danger of being thrown OUT. I watched the estimable Michael Gove being interviewed by Marr this morning, and he appeared to have thrown in the towel; he agreed that if the price of coalition was his own job at Education, he'd give it to David Laws. Christ!
Europe will become a major consideration, despite its strange absence from the election campaign. The implosion of the Euro will be yet another feather in the cap of Thatcherism, yet another argument conclusively won. The Clarkeites and Howeites and Brittanites were in her own Cabinet, remember, and anything less than the iron backbone she displayed would have delivered this country to the European Central Bank and an economic fate that hardly bears thinking about. I have in mind a performance closer to Ireland's than Germany's, you understand.
The new intake of Tory MPs is, we hear, broadly Eurosceptic. The new boys might lack the cojones to defy the whips, but the government will recognise that the task of riot control over loss of sovereignty to Brussels has become much harder. Bill Cash and a handful of other patriots will be defeated on European issues, because Labour and Liberal alike will back any European stitch-up, but they will gain revenge when other crucial votes depend on every last Tory backwoodsman making it through the lobby. John Major thought he had his "bastards" - well, Cameron will have his, as well.
Psephologists are in heaven, with all the inconsistency of swing. Making sense of it all depends on one's pre-election prejudice, it seems. Those who like Cameron will demonise UKIP, and tot up the number of seats 'lost' to the UKIP vote. This is an impossible argument, given how difficult it is to judge how many Europhiles stuck with the Tories because of its 'safe' line on Brussels.
The most depressing statistic of them all is the 65% turnout. I was at a dinner party a week before the election, where a reasonably intelligent and pleasant woman told me that there would be a huge turnout. I asked her what figure she had in mind and it was clear that she didn't know what a normal turnout was. She had a stab at 80% for this election and I was able to strike a bet at 'below 70%', which I knew, of course, was a winner. Not a bet worth collecting.
So, we remain where we were in 2001 and 2005 - all those voters who have ceased voting. They have never had such a wide array of choices from the minor parties, so we must conclude that they want an identifiable Big party of the Left, and the same for the Right. Not, as presently exists, three parties trying to get into the same telephone box.
It might start happening on one side at least. John Cruddas wants to take his party back to antediluvian Proletarian Socialism, and may even get his chance now that Brown is dead and the favourite to take over is an effete North London would-be intellectual social-angst merchant (that'd be YOU, Miliband senior).
There is, of course, no hope for a recognisable Conservative party for a while yet. Had Dave failed on a bigger scale, and the Clegg march towards 80 seats taken place, there would now be schism in the Tory party, and after a short but bloody war, a strong party of the right would form and prepare itself for government in 10 years time. For now, we must hold our noses and mutter small thanks every now and again that Dawn Primarolo and Ed Balls are no longer ministers of the Crown.
This country is in a pickle of its own making. The idle and feckless proportion of the white working class with its welfare dependency is culpable, as is the spineless centrist voter who knows that the medicine must be taken yet cannot bear to see the poor and disadvantaged having to swallow the vile stuff. No blame, it seems to me, attaches to the Right over our current mess, with the possible exception that they are still blamed for administering the medicine in the 1980s. Yet after the horrible Right had finished forcing the bitter unguent down the craw of the populace in the 80s, 14 million voted for Major in 92, more than Blair ever got - he won in 2001 with 10.7 million and 2005 with 9.6 million.
The least worst option this time was a Cameron victory, but being held to account, because of his small majority, by proper Conservatives within his party. Instead, he will be stretched between Redwood and Fox at one end of his coalition, and Hughes and Teather and his wife at the other. If you find this uncomfortable, too bloody bad, mate. If you campaign as a liberal democrat, it seems only fair to have to govern like one. You will discover the contradictions of the situation, if only because the markets will make them clear to you. Happy appeasing, old bean. What sweet irony that Boris is STILL the most powerful Tory in Britain. I dare say he is whistling in his bath, and with good reason.