This is the article that should never have been written, let alone published. A fortnight ago, the Prime Minister was taking delivery of some Opinion Polls commissioned by his Party in marginal seats. But we now know that these were just a job creation exercise for people with clipboards, as their conclusions were never going to have an impact on his decision not to go ahead.
He ignored my advice to push the button – not because I thought that he would win an election if he called it; but because such chances as he had would diminish with the passage of time. And, on the basis of the movement of the polls since I made that prediction, it looks as if I was right. So far.
Had there been an election called, I would not be writing this column. Instead, I would be writing an election address, which would be coming through your letter-box – Royal Mail permitting - sometime next week. And, together with my team, I would be marching up to your front door, armed with powerful reasons as to why I should continue to serve North West Hants.
Having advised the PM to dissolve, I would have looked silly had I not been ready. And I was. The day before, the boot of the car had been full of an assortment of caps, shoes, boots, jackets, ties and other props, and the passenger seat occupied by a photographer. We met some telegenic people in a variety of locations, changing clothes in between. No one would know that the photographs had been taken on one day, instead of being painstakingly assembled over a period of weeks.
One of the consequences of the Prime Minister deciding not to dissolve Parliament was that there was no excuse to cancel the visit to the dentist.
This required some serious excavation by a gentleman in a white coat, at the end of which, like an archaeologist unearthing a trinket from an Etruscan tomb, he emerged from my mouth and reverently showed me a long pin, held in the forceps. This, he declared, was thirty years old and it was put on one side for carbon dating. Something more durable was inserted in its place and the tomb was resealed. Speech was impeded for an hour or so.
But back to the election that never was.
So, we will now have to wait until 2009 or later. I will be ready; and, as long as there is no serious erosion of my hairline between now and then, I see no reason why the photographs cannot still be used.