Thursday, March 24, 2011

Clegg and Cameron: a bit of harmony in Government can't be a bad thing, surely

One of my favourite moments so far this year - and if anyone can get me a screen grab of it I will love them forever - was the look on Jon Snow's face as he salivatingly asked for Nick Clegg's wee moment this evening to be replayed. He was enjoying that far more than was decent.

For those of you who haven't seen it, Nick and David Cameron were doing a joint appearance in Nottingham to big up enterprise zones. At the end of the event they took some questions, one of which was about the leaders' debates in the next general election. David Cameron said that he hoped they'd be better natured than last year's. As they were walking out, Nick, who'd forgotten to take his mike off, joked to Cameron that "if we keep doing this we won't find anything to bloody disagree about in the bloody tv debates".

I don't know about you, but after 13 years of Cabinet by attrition from Labour, and, before that, the poisonous atmosphere in the Major Government and before that the withering disrespect Mrs Thatcher had for half her Cabinet, it's quite refreshing to finally see the PM and Deputy PM getting on. You don't need to be be best friends to work with somebody, but a good rapport can't be harmful.

All today's incident shows is that despite the policy differences on Europe, social policy and immigration as well as political and electoral reform to name but a few issues, Nick and Dave get on well enough to have a wee bit of jokey banter. You can't imagine Blair and Brown exchanging social niceties - and in fact they often went for weeks without anything more than a glower across the Cabinet table between them, with legions of aides spending more time fanning the flames of their feud than doing any serious work.

It's not like this was the first clue that Clegg and Cameron get on. A couple of weeks ago, Nick told the Independent that he'd whispered to Cameron that he was talking "utter bilge" at PMQs over AV. You don't talk to someone like that if you don't get on with them.

Way back in September, they put together some furniture for Cameron's new baby.

Of course, if they hadn't spoken at all, or it didn't look like they were getting on, the media would be full of splits and predicting the end of the coalition. They actually can't win. And, to be honest, having a good relationship is a lot less stressful.

What made me laugh out loud was the look on the face of poor Lena Pietsch,  Nick's press secretary. It was one of these "what.a.tool" moments that I'm sure every political staffer has with their boss from time to time. I feel her pain, but in a couple of days this will all blow over.

I guess well you have to remember that in the past couple of weeks Clegg and Cameron have been working together on first building the international coalition and then planning the action in Libya. That must have fostered the team spirit between them.

I have no problem with Cameron and Clegg getting on - I am secure enough in my own party's identity and its contribution to this Government to see it as an asset rather than a liability. I disagree passionately with lots of people about lots of things - doesn't mean I don't like them.

Let's not complain when our leaders behave like grown ups.


Anonymous said...

It's one thing to get on with colleagues, and another for a right wing nut job and a supposedly left of centre man to agree about "bloody" everything.

That is not healthy for democracy.

Dan Falchikov said...

Not so sure Caron. It's clear Clegg and Cameron get on well personally, and this slips simply confirms this.

The fact they are mates should actually make it easier for Clegg to put the political boot in - not harder.

Anonymous said...

Kieran E: Well said. It was a light hearted comment (we know politically they disagree on a great many things) and there is no problem with getting on with someone even if you vehemently oppose some of what he believes, and if they can hold off on having personal disagreements it won't bleed over into the cabinet and affect policy adversly.

@Tris - I hardly thing Clegg was entirely serious on that, as the nature of the comment would seem to suggest. Plus, labelling Cameron a right wing nut job is simply not true, as the wailing of the right of his party (who believe he has sold out everything to the LDs) makes clear.

cynicalHighlander said...

A marriage made in Westminster by two Tories in different colours with no respect for democracy.

Dear Westminster: a divorce letter

Harming Scotland's future jobs for a measly penny whilst doing nothing about the corrupt bankers, disgraceful.

Anonymous said...

Ah, so it was a joke Anon. Sorry I didn't real;ise that. But apart from AV they agree on everything else... well at least Clegg sits there nodding while Dave announces things in the Commons and Cameron does the same with him.

They are both posh boys. Clegg has brains and money, and Dave just has money, it's easy to see.

As for whether he's a right wing nut job...well he's right of where I stand and he is most definately a nut job. The mess he is making of everyhing he touches is unbelievable. I thought Blair was too incompetent to run a war, but this begs belief. They are a pile of rich kids (well, old rich kids) playing at soldiers. They don't have a clue.

If the far right of his party is not happy that is simply because until we get rid of the EU, probably by bombing it, send all foreigners home, bring back corporal punichment and teach Dryden by heart to all students from primary 3 onwards, they'll never be happy.


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