“In the tense weeks leading up to the general election there was much media blether about the constitutional conundrum presented by the possibility of a hung parliament. It seemed that so short was the institutional memory of the state, no one in Whitehall had the least idea of what to do, were it the case that no single party gained an absolute majority.
“Yet I recalled perfectly well the mid-70s when the Lib-Lab pact was formed, and I am but a callow 48. Politics in this country is conducted at a breakneck speed, and by necessity this means there can be no looking back. No looking back and, it would seem, not much looking forward. In the days following the election, as preening Lib Dems – looking like teenage girls who’ve been asked to the school disco by everyone – trotted in and out of negotiations with Labour and the Tories, the adage that a week was a long time in politics had never seemed so recherché. Now an hour is a long time.”