Yesterday I wrote that Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat party in the UK was a nobody.
That was yesterday. Today he is a somebody.
That's because, last night, the UK held its first-ever live televised debate between leaders of the main political parties. Before last night, it was only ever going to be between the incumbent Gordon Brown and the Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron. Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats was political padding.
It was a strange day in many ways — earlier a large cloud of volcanic ash had begun to cover the country, grounding all planes. David Cameron couldn't have flown up to the debate even if he'd have wanted to. Still, a lot of hot air covering the country wasn't anything new when it came to politicians. And north they went, to the TV studio that makes Britain's biggest soap opera, Coronation Street, to play their own version of The Weakest Link. No Anne Robinson sadly, she's clearly undergoing surgery for her wink getting out of control.
But over the course of the debate, a nation who hadn’t really given Nick Clegg a vague approximation of the hour — let alone the time of day — sat up and thought "A plague on both those houses; let's have the fellow with the floppy fringe." He received a massive mandate from the audience, whether it was his declaration to remove all income tax from the lowest paid and dumping it on the highest or that he didn't want to abandon immigration all together, who knows.
Although, that he seemed to be a normal guy set against a lumpen, drooling golem interested in army facts and figures on one side and a plastic mannequin who told us he'd met a teenager, a black man and a woman just that day on the other probably didn't hurt.
And no one liked Gordon Brown. We saw the after-debate commentary, with shots of audiences for the first time using those little wheels to express approval or disapproval. And every time Gordon spoke, those wheels hit the floor. It was quite comic.
Gordon insisted that only he could solve the economic problems. Despite also admitting that he helped cause them. He seems to be taking a "I broke it, I bought it" approach. David Cameron started off by apologising for the expenses scandal that rocked the country, though no one it seemed had asked him to, which made you wonder — like one would with a child who becomes oddly petulant when an adult walks into the room — what else he was hiding. And his face shone on camera so much that I swear I saw lens flare. Oh, and he also wanted to scrap methadone treatment for heroin addicts.
Against these freaks, Nick Clegg looked okay. And now, it's the day after and people are talking about Nick Clegg as an actual Prime Ministerial candidate as opposed to an afterthought. He might even win something. His rivals are taking him seriously. That we know very little about him probably helps. If nothing else, this debate has given the tabloid newspapers an excuse to delve into his past. Maybe even dig up one or two of those thirty ex-lovers of his…
Tags: Conservative Party (UK), David Cameron, Debates, Gordon Brown, Indecision Internationale, Labour Party (UK), Liberal Democrat Party (UK), Nick Clegg, United Kingdom
I have not, until now, said much about Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, the third most prominent party standing in the UK General Election next month. And that's because… there's just so little to say. He's a man whose greatest claim to fame is that he boasted of thirty lovers in a men's magazine interview.
The Liberal Democrats are often seen as a kind of nothing party with no real reason to exist. Emerging from the classic Liberal Party of the nineteenth and twentieth century that was pushed aside by the socialist movement of the Labour Party, then bolstered by splitters from Labour, its greatest asset is being neither the Conservative nor the Labour party.
It's never going to have enough votes to form a government. Which has given successive leaders the chance to come up with whatever policies they want, safe in the knowledge they'll never have to implement them.
Except this election might be a little different.
Tags: Indecision Internationale, Liberal Democrat Party (UK), Nick Clegg, United Kingdom
The idea that world leaders might be educated at some of the world's finer institutes of higher education had, at one time, been considered a good thing. But the likes of George Bush put a stop to that.
Now, we like our leaders to be, if not quite as dumb as shit, at least smeared across the face with said shit, preferably from a muddy rural field away from any suspicious higher spires of learning. In the US, this is an exercise in anti-intellectual snobbery that Pol Pot would have been proud of. In Britain, it’s not the anti-intellectual aspect, but the class issue.
As it happens, David Cameron — Leader of the Opposition, head of the Conservative Party and prospective Prime Minister of Great Britain — went to Eton. A private school (known as a "public" school in the UK, in that anyone can go there — if they’ve got the money) of the higher order, which has taught more prime ministers and cabinet members than any others, along with its fair share of archbishops, bankers, newspaper editors and business directors. And for a time, that was fine. Now, however, it’s not.
Tags: Barack Obama, Boris Johnson, Conservative Party (UK), David Cameron, Indecision Internationale, Tony Blair, United Kingdom
Most Americans knew who Tony Blair was. Hardly anyone has a clue who Gordon Brown is. And most Britons are happy to keep it that way.
Are you familiar with the Peter Principle? It states that an employee who is good at their job will keep getting promoted until they are no good at their job. And that’s where they stay, one level above their competence. And entire businesses can be full of them.
They don’t all make it to Prime Minister though.
Gordon Brown would have been well remembered as a rather good Chancellor of the Exchequer, the man in charge of the money, who presided over growth, low inflation, low interest rates and low unemployment. But he wanted to be Prime Minister so badly. Indeed, he made a deal with Tony Blair when negotiating over the leadership of the Labour Party that Brown would support Blair in that position, if Blair would step down after a certain period of time for Brown to take over.
Tags: Gordon Brown, Indecision Internationale, Labour Party (UK), United Kingdom
American politics can get kind of exhausting, can't it? Sometimes it's nice to peer across the pond where the bobbies take the lift up to their flats to use the loo. Did you know that they have politics there, too? In fact, they're getting ready to have their first General Election since 2005. Here's some limey named Rich Johnston to wrap it all up for us.
It's off. The United Kingdom General Election has been announced. This morning Prime Minister of Great Britain And Northern Ireland, Gordon Brown (you know, the bloke who stepped in after Tony Blair decided he wanted to go on holiday) took a cab to Buckingham Palace this morning to see the Queen (she had a bit of a headache after a night partying on meow-meow) and ask her to dissolve Parliament (along with a couple of soluble aspirin) in readiness for a General Election on May 6th.
They say the past is a foreign country, people do things differently over there. Well Britain is a foreign country in the past. A modern democracy, it is tied into a feudal, monarchical system that it does its best to ignore yet never quite managing to. Just as America seems to value the interpreted opinions of the Founding Fathers over all — despite a number of them being racists, paedophiles and downright loons — so Britain looks to the Royal Family for all sorts of guidance, despite them being inbred German idiots.
But rather than the two-year campaign which seems to dominate presidential politics in the US, Britain gets those two years condensed down into a mere one month's notice. As if we were just an employee in a call centre — and that's not far from the truth. The Prime Minister can basically call a General Election any time he or she fancies, up to five years between. In theory, this enables the ruling party to choose the best time to hold an election to ensure their re-election. In practice, it means politicians eek it out, clinging to power until they are forced screaming from office in mad terror.
Tags: David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Indecision Internationale, Labour Party (UK), Nick Clegg, Queen Elizabeth, Tony Blair, United Kingdom