Many things remain unclear, but let's stick to what we know. We know that David Cameron has said he believes there should be a "strong governmment in the national interest". We also know that Nick Clegg has said that he would first talk to the party which has most seats and most votes. So that would be the Conservative Party.

So quite how Gordon Brown, who must be licking his wounds and opening tubes of superglue in his Downing Street lair, imagines he will be able to open negotiations with a party that doesn't want to speak to him is anyone's guess.

If the Tories have 306 seats and can entice the DUP into some sort of agreement, they could realistically govern without a coalition with the LibDems. I'd be quite happy for them to have a go at that, but it is clear that a second election would have to follow within a very short time.

These are the likely power blocks, which demonstrate that whichever way you cut it, Labour cannot form a majority coalition. There's no way the SNP and Plaid would be part of it.

LAB: 261
LD: 55
Possible total: 321

CON: 306
DUP: 8
Possible total: 314

SNP + PC: 9

And the only way the Conservatives could do so is through a formal coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Many Conservatives would recoil at that. I am not one of them. If it has to be, it has to be. Our economy cannot stand the uncertainty of a minority government in the long term.

I believe David Cameron and Nick Clegg have enough in common to be able to come to an agreement on many policy areas. I don't see electoral reform as an insuperable barrier. I also don't see Europe as the barrier which many LibDems probably imagine it to be, although I accept there are potential difficulties there.

But a formal coalition is only worth the candle if it is for the long term - four or five years. The LibDems need to be bound in.

But if I were David Cameron I wouldn't rush into anything. He doesn't need to. He knows he holds the whip hand and so does Gordon Brown. I doubt anything will be resolved today.

The elephant in the room with regard to a second election is the fact that neither the LibDems nor Labour can afford one. Indeed, I doubt the Conservative coffers are very full either. So realpolitik may well play a role here as well as the practical consequences of the parliamentary arithmetic.