Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Cameron and Clegg show.

Looking to all the world like Hugh and Richard E. Grant promoting their latest movie, Cameron and Clegg are now selling their coalition as "a new kind of politics, a new way of governing"; and listening to them sell just how fantastic this new way of working is, one could almost forget the things they said about each other during the campaign.


"Until today we were rivals and now we are colleagues. And that says a lot about the scale of the new politics which is now beginning to unfold.

"This is a new government, and it's a new kind of government, a radical, reforming government where it needs to be and a source of reassurance and stability at a time of great uncertainty in our country too."

Of course, the message got slightly messed up when one reporter asked Cameron why, if this was such a good idea, did he still oppose PR?

The answer was, like most answers Cameron gives, a master class in obfuscation.

The funniest moment was when a journalist asked Cameron if he regretted saying that his favourite joke was, "Nick Clegg." Clegg appeared never to have heard this before and said, "Did you say that?" Cameron rather charmingly made a face and said, "I'm afraid that I did". Clegg quippped, "I'm off ... " It was genuinely very, very funny.

But for the rest of the conference the word "difficulty" popped up with astonishing frequency with Cameron at one point implying that he was inheriting the worst economic crisis which any government had even inherited. At that point I honestly thought he was under the impression that he was taking over Zimbabwe.

But both of them are trying their best to sell this new arrangement as something good, worthwhile and, more importantly, long lasting.

Mr Clegg admitted there would be some "bumps and scrapes" over the course of the arrangement but insisted the parties had a "common purpose".

He said: "This is a Government that will last. Not because of a list of policies, important though they are; not because it will be easy, there will be bumps and scrapes along the way, we are different parties and we have different ideas.

"This is a Government that will last despite those differences because we are united by a common purpose for the job we want to do together in the next five years.

"Our ambition is simple and yet profound. Our ambition is to put real power and opportunity into the hands of people, families and communities to change their lives and our country for the better.

"For me, that's what liberalism is all about: ensuring that everybody has the chance, no matter who they are, where they are from, to be the person they want to be, to live the life they want to live."

Clegg then implied that the only difference between himself and Cameron was the words they used:
For me that's what liberalism is all about.


You can call it fairness, you can call it responsibility, you can call it liberalism. Whatever words you use, the change you will have in your life is the same.
At that point the game of pretending that they are both essentially talking the same language became too ridiculous to ignore.

When Cameron talks of responsibility, he doesn't mean what Blair meant when he spoke of fairness, and the notion that the word liberalism can be stretched that far actually deprives it of any meaning.

I know they have to work at papering over the cracks, but that really was, for me, a stretch too far.

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