Coalition Success and Cynical Comment

The leaders of the coalition - Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - were clearly brimming with enthusiasm about it in their joint press conference this afternoon. As well they might. There has been much talk over the decades about changing British politics (the old SDP, out of which the Lib Dems were born, sought to 'break the mould' but alas didn't) - these two, with a bit of nudging from the electorate, have actually done it.

David Cameron's enthusiasm in particular suggests that he seems more at ease in this new arrangement than he might have done with a majority Tory administration. At least the coalition gives him the chance to ditch a few less favoured Conservative policies and keep a leash on the right. One Nation politics is very much back. Cameron, in fact, has shown daring and decisiveness in his drive to get this coalition on the road, which bodes well for his future leadership of the country. Clegg has been hardly less impressive as he steered the Liberal Democrats through their suspicion to a deal.

This is a new politics, engendered by the election, of the sort which journalists and commentators have been calling for ages. You know, politicians putting aside their differences and actually working together. So it is rather depressing to see that so many of the media are several steps behind the curve, happier with talk of division than compromise. The journos' questions at the press conference either harked back to the old style of politics or were essentially trivial. Cynicism is the main emotion of most commentators. One of the worst in this regard has been Newsnight. A combination of Kirsty Wark and Michael Crick has really failed to move with the body politic. Crick annoys as an intellligent man with a frivolous, door-stepping approach to his stories. His aim as a reporter is to get as much on the nerves of potential interviewees as possible for a bit of good television. Wark, meanwhile, has persistently tried - and usually failed - to get her political guests to resort to a bit of old fashioned partisanship. She has wilfully ignored the needs of compromise in a coalition arrangement, and baldly asks why this party or that have dropped their commitment to a treasured policy. She and Crick are clearly happier with party politics and point scoring than are the Conservatives or Lib Dems at the moment. Cameron and Clegg have, for the moment, overcome the possible opposition of much of their parliamentary parties, but they obviously have a long way to go before they can overcome the inbuilt cynicism of the political commentariat.


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