The last few days have turned everything we thought we knew about British politics on its head.
For those of my generation, whose political views were formed either for or against the Conservative party of Thatcher and Major it remains disorientating to see the Lib Dems entering a fully fledged coalition with the Conservatives.
Before the weekend I was adamant the only possible outcome, if the Tories failed to win outright, was a minority government. And that this would prevail only until David Cameron thought he could safely return to the country to win a majority. We may still end up with an early election - there are many pitfalls ahead. But unravelling the coalition without suffering collateral damage would stretch even the Machiavellian talents of the now departed Lord Mandelson.
I am not surprised, if saddened, to receive emails from a few supporters suggesting they could no longer support the party. But, as if to confirm just how difficult a dilemma the leadership faced, I had just as many warning they would switch if we threw in our lot with Labour.
I believe the party has made the right decision. It is clear that a Lib-Lab pact was never feasible. Practically, the numbers didn't add up. Politically, Labour appeared unwilling to give ground on key liberal issues. Culturally, Labour dinosaurs continue to hold sway and a number were already touring the TV studios to suggest they would seek to wreck any deal even as talks continued. The 'old' politics, personified by the behaviour in government of Brown's inner cabal, is still sufficiently alive and well to have prevented any real attempt to embrace pluralism. This may change with a new leader but it was not on the negotiating table over the last few days.
We could have headed back (yet again) into principled opposition hoping to take advantage of any government unpopularity and Labour infighting. But that begs the question of what are we in politics for? To represent and articulate an important section of public opinion, of course. But also to change things for the better. The latter is virtually impossible unless you are willing to accept government with all the compromises that inevitably entails. Even a cursory examination of the new government's agenda confirms the point - ID cards gone, contact database gone, ending the detention of child migrants, pensions earnings link restored next year, moves towards increasing the income tax threshold and so on.
And we will get vital elements of political reform that would certainly not have been guaranteed if we had continued our 70-year stay in the wilderness. An elected House of Lords and fixed term Parliaments for a start. A referendum on voting reform. But above all, we have a chance to show that our alternative vision of politics - consensual, pluralist and flexible - can work. The alternative was to confirm the media's stereotype and play straight into the hands of the tribalists in both the other main parties.
Make no mistake we are in for a bumpy ride in the next few years. But we also have the chance to change the country and its politics for good. We cannot turn this opportunity down.