Florida on the Thames! But unlike the epic drama of the 2000 debacle, this result feels like the big British dither. Labour was routed, but there were fewer Tory unexpected wins than there were Tory disappointments. And the romance with pin-up boy Nick Clegg fizzled. The Tories are already bleating on about their "moral victory” and Labour’s repudiation, but in fact the country hasn’t elected the Tories and Gordon Brown can sit tight and will. He is tough, a Scottish bruiser when it comes to a knuckle fight. His biggest enemy now is the Tory tabloid press. Murdoch scion James has already been heard chewing the carpet at Times newspapers and girding for a battle that will end with Cameron in Number Ten. The nation is feeling even more bad tempered, broke and anxious than it did the weeks before. With images of incipient revolution in Greece flooding the TV screens on election eve, the City is baying for a "decisive," aka Tory, government.
• More Daily Beast writers weigh in on the U.K. electionOne of the many bummers of a hung parliament is that Brits may be deprived for a day or two of the familiar image of the PM being bum-rushed the next day out of Downing Street in favor of his or her successor. The speed with which the leader is historically dispatched and a new one installed is one of the most brutal rituals of British political life. The removal vans parked outside in Downing Street. The small line of household and office staff inside the hall looking suitably tearful as they wave off the dazed incumbent. The phalanx of probing cameras trained on every attempt to mask the crushing disappointment. Of her own exit with Tony Blair on a bright sunny morning on June 27, 2007, his wife Cherie recalled in her memoir, “The sunlight glinted on their long lenses and I thought not for the first time, how threatening they were.”
As usual, Cherie blew it, responding to their snarky cat call, “Miss it will you? We'll miss you!" by firing back with "Bye, I won’t miss YOU"—causing her husband further anger and mortification as they drove off from Downing Street stiff-backed (upright and uptight?) in their Daimler power-hearse. “‘You can’t resist it, can you?’ Tony said through clenched teeth as the door closed behind me,” Cherie wrote in her autobiography. “‘For God’s sake, you’re supposed to be dignified, you’re supposed to be gracious.'”
That same car would soon become a torture to Blair if we are to believe what Maggie Thatcher’s daughter Carol said about her mother in the days after she was booted from power by her own party after 11 and a half years in office in an ugly coup. “My mother’s official car,” she told Sir Bernard Ingham in an interview on Channel 4 in June 2007, “used to avoid Whitehall because she’d look up and wonder why it hadn’t turned in—it hadn’t turned in because she was no longer prime minister. Do you think every former prime minister for a few days, possibly weeks, experiences some shell shock?”
Tina Brown is the founder and editor in chief of The Daily Beast. She is the author of the 2007 New York Times bestseller The Diana Chronicles. Brown is the former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Talk magazines and host of CNBC's Topic A with Tina Brown.