It may be a tiny bit of a cliche, but someone has called the General Election a job interview with 60 million employers on the interview panel. (I think I have the population right.)
Now tell me truly. Is there anybody out there who hasn't, on occasion, met an interview panel when going for a new job, and after being sensibly gracious and friendly, told their family on the phone as they walked down to the bus stop what an idiot one of the panel was?
I have. Sometimes it was true and sometimes it wasn't. I was tired and stressed, in the latter instances, and my frayed nerves were affecting my well-known equanimity.
I've said different things to and about people more times than I can count, anyway, because it was expedient. Haven't you? I'm not especially proud of the times when I've done it, but expedient lies are the engine of the capitalist system.
This is why it irritates me to hear and read the apparently popular view that the real scandal emerging from yesterday's "bigoted woman" gaffe was the discrepancy between what the Prime Minister said to the hectoring voter, and what he said when ensconced in his car.
The hypocrisy doesn't belong to him, in my view. It belongs to anybody who imagines that Mr. Brown must be held to standards they themselves will abuse freely; who won't allow the poor man to give into a mentality of siege, at times, and say something that would be unworthy of him at his best.
This man who has finally achieved the post he coveted for his entire political career and now watches, helplessly puzzled, as it slips out of his hands. This man who has been subject to the most vile abuse a politician has suffered since Michael Foot 27 years ago and is expected never to sway with the punches.
This man who wanted to be a glorious leader and will go down in history, instead, as Blair's disastrous, unelected successor. The man who led Labour to electoral wipeout, and potentially to third place behind the Liberal Democrats.
His tragedy is positively Shakespearean to me.