LISTENING to Hillary Clinton in the small hours of yesterday morning I wondered how anyone could have put together such a composed and confident speech almost immediately after having had to accept that her two-year long campaign for the Democrats' presidential nomination was over.

But as it wound on I began to realise that it could just as well have served as a victory speech - with just a bit of topping and tailing. Mrs Clinton was not downcast or apologetic - rather she insisted on drawing attention to all that she had achieved - most notably the policies she had stood for and the 18 million people she had persuaded to vote for her. She insistently claimed the right to speak for those people - mainly working class, Latino and women - who want her kind of Democratic policies in the White House. Her constituency is very different from Barack Obama's which is mainly young, liberal and black. Obama and Clinton would make a dream ticket for President and Vice President because they complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. It is said that they do not greatly like each other but that is irrelevant. It can hardly be supposed that John Kennedy liked Lyndon Johnson but they both knew enough about politics to hide their differences.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to an understanding between Obama and Clinton is the presence of former President Bill Clinton - two for the price of one would not necessarily be a bargain in this case.