And the 2011 Mugabe Award for failing to understand the will of the people goes to… – 11 February 2011

..all sorts of satirical responses possible, including the Deputy PM, but of course it is Mr Grecian 2000, Hosni Mubarak.

So, all day, ministers, army insiders, foreign observers pre-signalled that Mubarak would be going – with the tiniest shred of dignity – and then he came out on Egyptian telly and said ‘sod you, I’m staying.. and it’s all Al Jazeera’s fault anyway’.

So, when I wrote the other day that it looked like it was possible to move from Mubarak I to Mubarak 2, it is extremely unlikely that this will be possible now. In holding on too long, it is likely that even middle of the road apathetic Egyptians will be motivated to come and protest. Some commentators are suggesting that 25million people will come out across the country and if that’s true you can wave goodbye to the sort of regional stability that we all crave.

I think this might turn out to be one of those ‘twitter’ moments.. when Mubarak got to half way through his speech ‘Ceausescu’ started to trend on twitter. That cannot be a good sign, particularly given that many of those tagging the hoisted Romanian seemed to come from Egypt.

Notably, Obama seemed completely non-plussed by Mubarak’s speech and by the end of the night the American response had become quite hawkish, effectively saying the regime should change. As many people have said, the Egyptian military will now play a crucial role. Seeing their military aid budget under threat, they may choose to move the regime on. That, coupled to a clear transition pathway to democracy, should be a winning choice.


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