Having done better than expected in holding their seats, the Lib Dems came close to breaking into separate parties as one side flatly refused to go back into coalition with a depleted Conservative Party and the other was equally determined not to allow Ed Miliband and Ed Balls into Downing Street. The world's oldest parliamentary democracy was in danger of becoming the joke of the Western world as days dragged with no sign that anyone was capable of forming a stable government. It was somehow inevitable that as this crisis point, up popped Lord Mandelson, on the Andrew Marr programme, wringing his hands theatrically as he described how "friends" were "begging" Tony Blair to take up the burdens of prime ministerial office but he seemed "reluctant". No one who knew the spin master's mode of operating believed that he was doing anything but testing the water on Blair's behalf, but the performance convinced the public. Within 24 hours the "national conversation" about whether the nation should send for Tony Blair was in full throat. Radio phone-ins were heavily in favour, and one opinion poll showed an outright majority answering "yes" to the question "Would you support a coalition government led by Tony Blair?" None of the other names on offer scored above 20 per cent.
Finally, rather than allow the Cameron government to limp on until a new election in the autumn, Ed Miliband talked to reporters hanging around his house, knowing that they would ask him if he would accept office in a Blair Cabinet, and having made up his mind to answer "yes". The very next day, the man who had led Labour through three election victories was summoned to the Palace.
30 June 2012
How Tony Blair becomes PM in 2015
It could never happen, could it? The Independent evokes a nightmare; it may not frighten little children, but it is far from pleasant dreaming.