There was an incident during the 1997 general election that sticks with me and forever will. Recall that Labour were always going to win, nothing on earth could have stopped them. And yet, as often happens, there was some silly 'wobble' in their campaign, so that Blair's nerve and judgement temporarily deserted him. What to do? Never fear, Alastair and Mandy knew exactly what to do.
So Shameless Tony was placed in front of the cameras, drew himself up to full height, gripped the podium tightly, steeled himself for the mawkish moment, thrust out a defiant lower lip - oh my friends, this is so serious - and with trembling voice made the great announcement. The Tories are planning ... dramatic pause ... to scrap the state pension!
And thus must David Cameron now gird himself for four long months, play-acting and lying through his teeth. A tough gig, he will think but hey, someone has to do it. That's democratic politics. Not for the faint-hearted, the overly-scrupulous, the intellectually fastidious. Eton, Oxford and the world of PR have readied me for this disgusting duty and I have the stamina, the gall, and the turn of phrase to pull it off. And the firm handshake.
A certain look in the eye and an easy smile.
You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to ... in the words of the song.
Too tough a gig for little Gove, though - that thoughtful runt of the high tory command. He knows the disgraceful falsity of Project Fear, the ignoble sophistry of Le Grand Charade. He just can't bring himself to go through with it. Never really cut out for serious politics, were you Michael? Back to writing Times leaders for you - unless Rupert has already been bought off ...
OK then Boris, so how about you? Eton, Oxford, and even more intellectual prowess than Gove, he sees it all and - intellectually - despises it roundly for the aischros it is. On a good day. On a bad day, he sees only personal gain (and doesn't Odysseus show us, there can be arete in expediency?)
Michael White thinks he knows. The Boris whose policy on cake is both to have it and eat it will prevail, he thinks. Only hours from the Decision now, so I'm sticking my neck out recklessly here, but I fancy Boris will go with Gove. How does he want to go down in history? Surely it's the Churchillian romantic-lost-cause option. He's young enough for one of those. And you can still write grand books if you've stuck to your guns: nobody really has much regard for the craven, calculating trimmer.
Anyhow, we'll know soon enough.