Regular readers of this blog will know by know that I have been suffering from an annoying eye condition where at certain ranges I have been seeing double. I am working on building up my muscle strength in the hope that these annoying double visions will go away soon.
I wonder if my visual illusions will last longer than that other double vision that was unveiled to the World yesterday at David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s press conference in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street which revealed just how closely they plan to work together as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Great Britain.
The press of course has been having fun with jokes about David and Nick’s marriage/civil partnership/love-in etc. and it is part of our great journalistic tradition to scoff and sneer. Long may it live.
Long too, I think we must all hope, may this extraordinary new friendship survive in the sea of boiling bile that is British politics.
I am as cynical about politics as the next man/woman but even to my jaded eyes Dave and Nick looked like something new on our political horizon. We have had the Churchill-Atlee wartime coalition which worked well but was hardly “romantic” and unique in modern times in the United Kingdom.
More direct comparisons to the Nick and Dave affair are the short-lived and acrimonious Lib-Lab Pact during the 1970’s followed by that early dawn for the Liberal-Democrats when the “Two Davids” (David Owen and David Steel) began to merge their Liberal and Social Democrats Parties by hiding their differences. All of that was pragmatic sensible stuff which ran for as long as it made sense for the individual components before ending in anger in recrimination.
This new relationship is no more likely to hold together but there was something inspiring about the chemistry of those two men in that garden filled with bird song and fresh Spring leafing yesterday afternoon.
They revealed that in that meeting when they first came together they realized that there was something more imaginative and exciting on offer than merely a merging by compromise between the two parties. The policy document was, naturally, just that, a bit of giving here and taking there but what seems to have happened is that these two enthusiastic, optimistic, youngish, posh, clever, Oxbridge-educated, fundamentally nice men, hit it off together. Sneer or not, there was a sparkle in their eyes when they walked together into that garden full of old press scoffers.
Some of the “marriage” jeering reflected a very English discomfort with expressions of masculine emotion but the press might have to get over that because, regardless of our individual politics or our prejudices, there is real hope in the thought that the new government is being lead by two people who, maybe surprizing even themselves, actually really like each other.
If though a comparison has to be made, sadly, their love-in has elements of Romeo and Juliet about it. Idealistic star-crossed lovers from bitter feuding families who are finally driven to end it all in a death pact.
We should wish them luck for all our sakes.