On the Today programme this morning on Radio 4 the LibDem ex-leader Paddy Ashdown was talking about their disasterous local election results and how it would change the tenor of the coalition (it might change the tenure of the coalition too, but he wasn’t talking about that).

He said the relationship would be less chummy. Less “glad confident morning”.

It’s a phrase quoted from a poem by Robert Browning, “Never glad confident morning again!” to be precise.

The poem it’s from is called “The Lost Leader“. It’s quite an opaque poem, in which the narrator says that their leader has betrayed them, and does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as other great poets such as Shakespeare, Milton, Burns and Shelley, who now watch from their graves!

Look it up on Wikipedia and you will find that Browning was having a go at William Wordsworth, berating him for deserting the liberal cause. And, “More generally, it is an attack on any liberal leader who has deserted his cause”. Ouch.

Who said there’s no hidden symbolism in Politics any more, eh?  Or doubts the potency of Poetry?

Here’s a song for them by Memphis Minnie – You Ain’t Doing Nothing To Me, all the way from 1935.