That was worth staying up for - though I slept through the first few hours of the results programme recovering from yesterday evening's very jolly Hackney North Labour Party fundraising dinner with Ken Livingstone, who was on good form (before the dinner he told me how his political career was shaped by beating the then John Smith-Special Adviser Vince Cable 24-20 for the parliamentary selection in Tory Hampstead, which meant he was unavailable to run for MP in Hackney North, the seat he had already been selected for for the GLC, when David Weitzman unexpectedly resigned in 1979. Ken told me he had been so miserable and felt his time so wasted by the 14 years he did spend as an MP he was grateful to have avoided getting a safe seat 8 years earlier).
Back to Obama though, I wasn't a fan during the primary season but I freely admit to being choked up during his acceptance speech this morning.
There are clearly a lot of practical lessons Labour here in the UK needs to learn from the Obama campaign about mobilisation of campaigners and voters - but I hope we don't get too carried away as the paradigm is a lot different - in our next election we will be the incumbents, not the insurgents, we don't have any politicians here with the capacity to generate the personal fan base Obama has, and here the demographic trends resemble those of 20 years ago in the US - the continued growth of suburbia and the conservative south, not the more recent changes in demography (and voter registration) in the US that helped make Obama competitive in a number of southern and western states.
I hope that the usual suspects will understand that like other leaders - Blair and Clinton - elected on a wave of hope, Obama is inevitably going to have to take tough decisions that will disappoint his more idealistic supporters - maybe even go to war - and that the left's favourite narrative of "betrayal" doesn't get rehearsed too quickly.
One final note - the CNN coverage was brilliant (web version here: http://edition.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/president/) - serious, authoritative and fact based - and avoided the BBC's absurd and childish Jeremy Vine graphical gimmickry we have seen in recent UK elections in favour of graphics that just clearly illustrated the results. BBC please note for future UK elections.