Like millions around the world, I was glued to my television screen earlier tonight, eagerly awaiting what was billed as the climax of Egypt's equivalent of the Velvet Revolution. Instead what we got was...now, which historical event was it that it reminded me of again? Ah, that's right, it was the time everyone assumed Iain Duncan Smith was about to resign as Tory leader, only for him to deliver his risible "Unite or Die" speech. The good news for the Egyptian protesters is that IDS was eventually forced out, kicking and screaming. The bad news is that Michael Howard replaced him.
That's the frivolous answer, but the more troubling one is that the trajectory of events could also be seen as vaguely reminscent of what happened in China in 1989. The public support for the student protests in Tiananmen Square was so overwhelming that, for a few days, democratic reform seemed all but inevitable. Let's hope against hope that history doesn't repeat itself, but it is a timely reminder that the moment of greatest hope can sometimes prove to be the midwife of despair.