Oliver Letwin’s face was a picture when William Hague announced that the Tories had ‘gone the extra mile’ to promise an Alternative Vote referendum. Written all over it was the sense that government was slipping from their grasp and Lord Ashcroft might ask for his money back. No surprise that the Tories made their concession only after Gordon Brown fell on his sword in the public interest to pave the way for the so-called ‘rainbow’ progressive alliance if the Tory/Lib Dem talks fail.
It has been reported that in order to make this concession David Cameron had to agree that the Tory Right would be represented in any cabinet probably with three seats. One of the names mentioned was that of their former primo uomo, Michael Howard, famously described by the great Tory diva, Ann Widdecombe, as having ‘something of the night about him’. An odd choice given the Tories frequently expressed views in this campaign about rejected politicians.
Throughout the campaign I have thought that David Milliband had a knowing look about him, like the King in waiting. He may yet be but for how long with such an assortment of minor parties needed to maintain a majority. Concessions required by them may be unrealistic leaving us in a worse mess. If the Tory party can satisfy Lib Dem anxieties and the threat of gerrymandering has been completely removed it seems reasonable that they should have their chance to form a government. What a disaster for their leader if that does not happen. So close to the ultimate prize of Prime Minister yet he could, as Ann Robinson might put it before she winks off to the news, “Mr Cameron, you go away with nothing. Goodbye!”
With a decision expected it is interesting to see on the BBC News another change of face by Oliver Letwin resuming his previous broad grin. Deal done?