This post is a sort of prequel.
Lots of people have already asked me "But what did yesterday mean and I'm afraid it will be a while before anyone can properly answer that.
The House of Lords scrutinises a bill "line-by-line". They are there to go through every last detail of policy and amend it where they find fault. There are no big-bangs, no fireworks, just lots and lots and lots of technical details. They get harder and harder to report and harder still to explain. The "nuts and bolts" of yesterday were fascinating, but definitely for another day.
What I can tell you is what it meant politically.
Let's go back a year. The Broken of Britain were in the last days of their "One Month Before Heartbreak" campaign. The DLA/PIP consultation was just about to close and they had successfully inspired thousands to make a submission in a first blaze of social media activity.
We had nothing and no-one. Welfare reform was the one rock solid area for the Government. The media were eagerly whipping the public into the full throes of rabid scrounger hating. The "opposition" were, erm, not opposing. At all. In fact they were actively supporting both the Government and the stigma.
We couldn't get a journalist anywhere to report welfare, they practically held lavender hankies to their noses at the thought. No-one cared about the details of the bill and it marched on, seemingly unstoppably, towards becoming law.
That's what we won. That's what we changed. Step by step, tiny victory by tiny victory, we chipped away relentlessly. Like Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption. Chip chip! A story here, a journalist there, a politician persuaded, a peer convinced. Chip, chip! Exposing their mistakes and their fibs, speaking at this conference, speaking on that radio show. Chip, chip! An email or a letter or a blog post or an article.
And somehow, magically, the tiny chips became a dent and the dent became a hole and the hole became a tunnel, right through to Grayling and Miller and Freud. Right through to the Daily Mail. Right through to Newsnight and the Spartacus Report and the ESA defeats in the Lords and our DLA amendment. We had an amendment!!! In the House of Lords!! Lord Freud had to answer our report!!
What's that got to do with yesterday?
Without it, as we all know so very well, you have nothing. But by yesterday, we held some cards. By yesterday, the Government were unsure. By yesterday, they had to compromise.
I know that compromise is a boring word. We all wanted explosives, heavy artillery and preferably, for Freud, Miller, Grayling and IDS to be permanently exiled to somewhere in Afghanistan with a lot of bandits.
But compromise is what the Lords are there to ensure and finally, dragged kicking and screaming towards the naughty-step-of-honesty, Freud had to suck it up.
Yesterday, I said we would know where we stood as soon as the debate started. It was all about tone. It was all about how many peers turned up to moan a bit about financial privilege. It was about how much momentum we had built up and just how worried the Government were. Another round of humiliating defeats would have been a disaster. If we had no chance of inflicting any, then it was game over.
If, however, peers were as cross as we felt they were, if they were as concerned for us as they were for democratic process, then they could make things very sticky indeed. If they chose to. And it was a choice. The amendments themselves barely mattered yesterday - we didn't even have time to work out what they all meant. They were symbolic "If you don't compromise now, we will test you" Sort of the parliamentary equivalent of your Mum shouting down the stairs "Don't make me come down there!!!"
Ohhhhhh they did us proud. First an almighty slap-down from every corner of the House over the misuse of financial privilege. Oh, it was brutal. Freud, checking over his shoulder, looking nervously about for friendly supporters or grim faced opponents. When peers call the commons "bullies" and one peer calls another "sneaky" in oh-so-courteous Lords speak that's like your Nan calling her bridge team the c word.
The gloves were off and from the first few minutes it was clear that peers were up for a fight. Process had been pushed too far, convention stretched to its limits and that was the best possible scene we could expect to see.
The first amendment saw Freud compromise. Bns Meacher, who had taken no prisoners at all seemed content enough to withdraw it. A win.
Then, over forcing people in social housing to move to imaginary homes if they have a spare room, more passionate speeches, more forensic slapdowns and Freud was squirming. Peers pushed it to a vote and we won! Message? "If you insist, we will defeat you." That was all we needed. Just that one.
We won the Crossbenchers, we won 9 Lib Dems, and even a few Tories seemed to stay at home. Freud knew then - if he pushed any more votes, he would lose them.
And so the offers started to come in thick and fast. To avoid any further votes, he pretty much accepted all of the "Amendments in Lieu". He got flustered, forgot which amendment came next, and at one point he even admitted (to my great geeky satisfaction) that they had not fully understood the "youth condition" amendment that meant profoundly disabled children would no longer qualify for NI contributions. Freud! Admitting he was wrong!! In the Lords! *sigh* I liked that bit. I do believe he actually used the word grovel!!!! (I shall be checking Hansard for that one....)
Remember, as per previous posts, amendments can be - and as we've seen - will be, overturned in the Commons. The pledges Freud makes before any vote, however, are binding. The more he makes, the more we "won". The more he compromises, the more worried he is.
By yesterday afternoon he was so worried - about the future of the entire bill - that he took a few blows to avoid a knockout in the second round of Ping Pong.
So when I can tell you what the "Amendments in Lieu" actually gained us, I will, but don't expect fireworks
The amazing, almost miraculous part was that yesterday, we gained much, much more than the sum of a few watered-down amendments of watered-down amendments.
We pushed the Government further than they - or indeed we - ever imagined possible. We opposed. We informed, we had them on the ropes. The public started to wake up, a few journalists came blinking into the light and the entire welfare debate has changed forever. We have a voice, we have made our case and when it starts to become clear that we were right all along, the world will be waiting to notice - not blindly stumbling towards disaster.
We still have a filthy bill, crammed with awful policies. We still have a mountain to climb. But we have shaken the Government out of their arrogant complacency in a way they never imagined.
I can't say what will happen to the bill now. But I can say that from now on, it will be a much, much more equal fight. And that is something the Government never, ever expected in their worst nightmares.