Carrying a torch and a pitchfork appears to have become the new qualification for entry to the Question Time audience - and last night the show was mysteriously brought forward to 9pm - perhaps, Cassius wondered, some of the audience had police curfews obliging them to be home? Or perhaps it was the MP's on the panel. So difficult to tell nowadays.
The most telling thing about the debate, apart from the obvious disgust with anybody representing the Government (in this case the hapless Ben Bradshaw) was the clamour from the audience to call an election now. More telling still was the fact that Vince Cable was forthright in his support for this - repeating time and time again that an election must be held now, and that this Parliament has lost the moral authority to Govern. For what it's worth I think apart from Bradshaw toeing the bunker line the panel was unanmimous on this point.
We have Her Majesty's Loyal opposition, together with the third party and certainly the majority of the british people calling for an election NOW. Yesterday the country suffered material economic damage as S&P placed it on credit-watch negative - explictly referring to political uncertainty and stating that a General Election would be needed before the decision could be meaningfully reviewed. It doesn't matter what you think of ratings agencies, the downgrade and the delay are making the economic slump worse.
So why is Gordon Brown blocking an election which even 30% of his own voters want today? Because he feels a moral obligation to clean up and leave a better system for his successors? No such obligation bothered him when he tried to block expense publication in January. Because he feels that the miscreants in Parliament would be better punished if a year was allowed to go by and Parliament had been subject to scrutiny of more Quangos, more commissions? These are barefaced political lies. That he dares to utter them is proof enough, as if it were needed, of the moral bankruptcy of this administration.
Brown's justification for blocking an election is the same one which has allowed so many members of his cabinet and his party to profit personally at the expense of the taxpayer. To do so is "within the rules". A Politician with an ounce of sense of right or wrong would admit, as Vince Cable did last night, that moral authority was lost - but not our Gordon. This parody of a statesman can and will hang on to the office he never earned, so long as his jumped up ministers and unemployable lobby-fodder can continue sucking on the public teat for a year to come.
Gordon Brown and Labour are in power to the detriment of the country - not because they have a mandate, not because they are the best for the job - but because they, personally, want to be, and because they CAN. And, like his lies over the election that never was, this is something the public will not easily forget. If - as well may happen - a divided and discredited Labour become the third party behind the Liberal Democracts in a future Parliament, those charged with salvaging it will be able to look back at this week as the period which sealed their fate.