Our political satirist turns her attention to the three musketeers:
|The Gimlet Eye|
NICK 'ME TOO' CLEGGBack in the Seventies, Japanese carmakers copied the designs of western manufacturers and pinched their customers. Could that pinking Mazda of a man, , do the same to ?
Cleggy is the 'me-too' of the party leaders. His party's policies could be Labour, his own presentation could be Cameron. He looks and sounds like the Tory leader. Even seems to have the same tailor. Not unsnazzy, some of those blue suits.
It is almost three years since he succeeded the Ming (Campbell) emperor. But Clegg is not yet a houselhold name. He's more likely to be thought of as 'Nick Thingy' or 'That Lib Dem bloke who bedded lots of girlfriends'. He told Piers Morgan he had notchep up' no more than 30' lovers. Eww. It was not so much the number as the nonchalance. Thirty? In some seats the Lib Dems barely have that many voters.
Clegg's first serious job was as an aide to European Commissioner Leon Brittan in Brussels in the late Nineties.
Unlike Brown and Cameron, Clegg can lay claim to no great personal suffering. He and his Spanish wife Miriam are the epitome of sleek, urban, Europe-orientated technocracy. This former Westminster public schoolboy has little colour in his life, although some of his forebears were White Russians. At Cambridge he read anthropology -useful for analysing his party's numerous bearded oddballs.
He is not a man to deter voters. But can he enthuse them? Those 30 girlfriends must have seen something in him. If we find ourselves with a hung parliament, Clegg could yet get his wandering hands near power.
GORDON 'THE BEAR' BROWN
The Brown bear is grizzly. He claws and growls and lollops from lair to lair, seeking yet more sustenance. Inside his belly lurks an insistent ache: not so much hunger (though that pushy wife of his has put him on a diet) as a sense of fuming injustice. That one so hairy and mighty as he should be pestered by electoral peril! The possibility of losing power buzzes inside his brain and infuriates him.
Labour, some years ago, replaced the Tories as the party that thinks it has the unalterable right to govern. There are few with a greater sense of this self-entitlement than our brooding Prime Minister. In place of logical policy dialectic we hear noisy assertion-that he is 'right' and that his opponents are 'wrong'. End of story. Flunkeys who question his judgement find themselves on the wrong end of a piece of hurtling telephonic equipment. Vodathrown.
He scavenges for votes, smashing obstacles in his way, gruntling, foraging. Labour's only tactic to keep him in the public eye. Keep him on the TV news. Get him to deny bullying. Agree to the TV debates. Anything to stop the media looking at Labour's policies.
Brown was the Chancellor who blew billions. Now that the money has run out, he is finding it hard to recalibrate bid political howitzers. The one argument he knows is: 'Cuts bad, public spending good'.
Amazingly, some saps still seem to think he is clever. Clever! The man who sold half our gold reserves at the bottom of the Market!
He barges around Westminster with his pinched-buttock walk, shoulders hunched, the upper cheeks of his face bruised by tiredness. If you come across this bear, please do not approach. Call the park wardens and perhaps they can put the old Bruin out of his misery.
DAVID 'THE PRINCE' CAMERON
On the launch pad. The astronaut has been ready for months. He has gone through his checks a thousand times. And now he's starting to worry.
David Cameron isn't just doing this for fun or out of duty. Ferocious ambition lurks in his soul. His past 20 years have been preparation for this election and yet, as any NASA pilot will tell you (let alone the polls), it could yet, so easily, go wrong. When he puckers his broad brow with politically correct concern, it is easy to forget that Cameron is a tough bastard. He may have a better grip on his rage than the moon-howler in No. 10 Downing Street, but he has that princely ability to ignore and cut those who have taken familiarity too far.
His weakness, as we all know, is class.
Yet this supposedly wet-palmed Etonian has surrounded himself with a carapace of door-blockers and strategy bruisers. Too many of them, perhaps. As the possibility of power has approached, the sunshine boy has yielded to something less wholesome but more pragmatic. Good.
Is he another Blair? In some ways. He's a centrist. A charmer. Yet under that salesman surface there is the same bleak practicality and ruthlessness as in Blair.
As once said about Max Hastings, you need a guy who's good at drowning kittens.
Opposition attracts idealists. Government, if it can be achieved, is a less high-minded dance with the forces of mottled reality. Ready for lift-off, Dave. The countdown has begun.