Election 2015: the aftermath
Adrian Sykes surveys the highs and lows, as well as the winners and losers, from the wreckage that was last night's dramatic election.
So. It's all over. In the end the results turned out rather closer to my estimates than the polls suggested. If anything, I was too circumspect on the Tories' prospects.
I feel a bit sorry for Nick Clegg. His position is that of a platoon commander in WWI. He led his men through the wire, only to see them all cut down by machine guns: leaving him almost alone to survey a wasteland and the piled corpses of his friends.
He might rather have lost his seat, which he only retained through Tory tactical voting, as well. His position in the new Parliament will be difficult, a lugubrious figure of fun and one of the walking dead. He deserved better; but a commentator mustn't be sentimental.
Ed Balls deserved to lose an unrepentant architect of the financial disaster in 2008. And I'm thrilled to see the back of Vince Cable, ever smug and tiresome.
I'm slightly sorry to see Danny Alexander on his way back to run the PR department of the Cairngorm National Park: an honest man, he did his best.
I'm very sorry though, to see Jim Murphy go: a lion torn down by a pack of slavering hyenas.
As for Nigel Farage, fired up by red Bordeaux, I waxed as lyrical as his Barbour coat about him some time in the middle of the night; and I will miss him. The court has lost its jester.
However, the night belonged to David Cameron, no question. He turned the Tory campaign, leading countless bayonet assaults against Ed Miliband. He has earned the gratitude of the nation that he has saved. Ed's brother will be whistling a happy little tune, but only under his breath while hiding a tiny smirk.
The most interesting interplay to look forward to will be the mating ritual between NicolaSturgeon and David Cameron. If that plays out well, the nation could get a constitutional arrangement that settles all the tensions that have built up: over voting systems, the House of Lords, federalism and fairer boundaries; and annul the constipatingFive Year Parliament Act.
Cameron could go on to agree terms with Europe that would enable the UK to stay within the Union. He might consider appointing Farage as his principal negotiator Lord Farage of Brussels has a certain ring to it
That's it for now. I've got a terrible hangover, but we must raise our glasses to Cameron and not forget George Osborne and Lynton Crosby either, crafty little buggers.