I note John Naughton’s rather cryptic comment on reading Jonathan Freedland’s column in today’s issue of The Guardian.
As for personal ambition, the virus that brought down Macbeth, those looking kindly on Brown said he was cured of it. “I'm past caring,” he mused privately on Friday, when asked about his own position. They point to his statement accepting that Clegg talk to Cameron first, all statesmanlike and above the fray, as if he had made the emotional shift from combatant to referee.
Others see the weekend’s events rather differently. The less charitable version pictures Brown in the No 10 bunker, scheming to cling on. It cites the late-night calls to Clegg – although those who heard them insist they were calm and businesslike – imagining a fevered Brown stabbing jotting pads with his thick pen, totting up the assorted minor parties to see if he could somehow reach the magic number that spelled power.
That the PM saw Clegg again today, in a clandestine meeting at the Foreign Office, confirmed Brown was far from ready to surrender. Instead, this man of uncanny resilience was clearly planning one more resurrection.
Which version is true? Is Brown now the becalmed statesman, planning his exit, or the bloodied survivor, determined to fight on? The likelihood is that, when it comes to Brown – the most psychologically complex figure to inhabit Downing Street since Winston Churchill – the answer is both.
It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.
I have some misgivings about its being over even then. The more one thinks about it, the more one begins to realise that the Liberal Democrats have most lose out of any partnership.
One strongly suspects that the people who voted for them this time – I was not one of them in the end – will feel, with mighty good reason, that they have been cheated by any deal that Mr. Clegg might do.