What an extraordinary day, and it’s not over yet. I’d just filed for the first edition of The Record as George Osborne tabled a counter-bid of a referendum on AV in a bid to keep the Lib Dems talking to the Tories.
Somehow, that might not be enough, and it risks splitting his own party on the issue while the Libs are being offered the world by Labour.
It is Gordon Brown, the Terminator,the man they could not kill, who has changed the game by pressing his self-destruct button to pave the way for a “progressive majority” that could ring in profound changes in British politics.
This is now a high-rolling poker game that is due to continue with another meeting of the Lib Dem MPs tonight.
Brown’s audacious 5pm announcement punched the Tories clean out of the ring as talks between David Cameron’s party and the Lib Dems to form a coalition showed signs of floundering.
Brown’s offer to start simultaneous talks to form a “progressive alliance”, involving Labour, Lib Dem, Green, Unionist and nationalists MPs, could usher in proportional representation voting.
The fair share voting system would change the political landscape of Britain and could see the Tories permanently out of power in Westminster.
While a minority Tory government led by David Cameron still remains an option, Labour’s serious counter-bid for power changed the game after two days of talks between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.
Brown also offered the prospect of an elected House of Lords and a government that would prioritise Britain’s economic deficit as he sacrificed his own career to make the deal possible.
But nothing suits his career so well as the leaving of it. By opting to resign Gordon Brown acknowledged that he has to pay a personal price for a new kind of politics.
That alone made it possible for him to give up the office he had always coveted, and held for only three years, with his head held high.
Hague is up now and it is a referendum on Alternative Voting the Tories are offering. That’s probably as far as they can go on this, for now.
Hats off, by the way to Nyta Mann, who has spent the last week arguing with me that this is exactly how events would work out. Still a bit to go to your New Jerusalem darling, but things are moving in your direction.