It says much about the tastes of Conservative politicians that, at the suggestion of Oliver Letwin, they have taken to comparing the struggle for power in Britain to the fight for control of Middle Earth. Rather than mock their addiction to sword-and-sorcery epics, I will gently remind them that in the final battle of the Lord of the Rings the Dark Lord Sauron realises that he has been looking the wrong way. Hobbits so small he has failed to notice them are preparing to drop the ring of power into Mount Doom. Sauron’s giant red eye swings towards the new danger as “the magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him in a blinding flash and all the devices of his enemies were at last laid bare. Then his wrath blazed in consuming flame, but his fear rose like a vast black smoke to choke him. For he knew his deadly peril”.
Last week, Tory England turned its blazing eyes on the once insignificant Liberal Democrats. Outrage thundered from the pages of its newspapers, as if their editors had not realised until the moment of mortal danger that Nick Clegg existed.