When Gordon Brown fell on his sword this week, he did so with a great deal of dignity. It's a shame that his odious successors do not share the same quality.
Clegg is this century's first national traitor. He took the king's shilling and sold his centre-left party and electorate out to the right wing. Rubbish. 24 hours after this sickening cow-tow, he was warming his feet in Cameron's cast-off slippers and making perverse u-turns on Trident and immigration policy. More misery will surely follow.
What do you think? If the polls had returned a radically different result, would Labour have sold their souls to the Tories for the chance - any chance - to co-govern? Of course not. In matters of basic political ideology, it's apparent that Brown has his principles and will stick to them. Clegg, to his eternal disgrace, will not. That's basic schoolboy rule number one broken, right there: he should have asked his mate from Eton about that.
Brown delivered his retirement speech with a great deal of humility and perhaps a whiff of relief that his shift was through. For perhaps the first time since he'd been elected PM he was able to slip back into the role of card-carrying Labour man: and it suited him.
There was no such dignity surrounding Clegg or Cameron. Guilt and shame shrouded the former, a desperate cluelessness the latter. Cameron's opening address showed a man strikingly out of his depth, still spouting party political rhetoric when the time for all that was over. He sees the country, I think, as little more than a bloody big council. He struck me as a winger; a conman who somehow managed to swindle his way into the country's top job. He knows he doesn't really belong at No 10, but he'll pop the champagne anyway and do his best to shuffle through. Our American friends have been here before. Hail to the thief.
Brown made his way to Buck House in a blue Daimler. Cameron was in a silver Jaguar. Am I alone in finding this vehicular choice a little insidious? They're very similar cars, yet the Daimler has always borne a sedate, British, gentlemanly distinction... while the Jag seems representative of either East End gangsters or the 1960s cop cars that chase after them. And the silver paintwork is synonymous of the garish USAF Mustang fighter planes of WW2 - rather more gung-ho than the Spitfires and Hurricanes in their camouflage colours.
Brown retired from the hot seat with great decorum and dignity. Cameron came swaggering in with just a little too much pride in himself. Luckily, perhaps, we all know what pride comes before.