Friday, 4 May 2012

Brace yourself for the sequel - David Cameron and Nick Clegg return to the rose garden

The Golden Latrine frothed at the mouth in glee at the news that David Cameron and Nick Clegg are to host a joint event - working title "Rose Garden 2" - on Tuesday to try and polyfiller over some of the fairly hair-raising cracks that are beginning to open up in the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition.

Cast your minds back, if you will, to that glorious sunny day in May 2010. The buds were blossoming, and so was their Dave and Nick's bromance as the newly elected leaders frolicked together in the Downing Street rose garden, shooting each other besotted smirks as they heralded the arrival of the "new politics".

Now, as every seasoned film fan will tell you, sequels are nearly always terrible - with the possible exception of the second Godfather film (besides her crimes against tweeness, my main source of animosity at the drippy girl in 'that' ad was the fact that she preferred the Godfather III. You're right, it's not considered the best one - because it's shit. Also, as it's only two decades old, I'm not sure if it even qualifies as an "old movie". Ahem.) This reunion, though, has the potential to be a true classic.

Back in 2010, Clegg undoubtedly saw Coalition government as a chance for the Lib Dems to cast off their "third party" tag and taste real legislative power. This would prove they were grown-up enough to play with the big boys. Now though, on the back of some eye-wateringly bad local election results (the Lib Dems lost 369 of their 767 council seats), that decision looks positively suicidal. To misquote Norwegian football commentator Bjørge Lillelien's famous rant: "Nick Clegg, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!"

And it's not just the Lib Dems rank-and-file that are being to get restless. As Plymouth Tory MP Gary Streeter said today: "We have got to be much more Conservative on crime, law and order – that is what our supporters are waiting, indeed gagging to see." Flogging benefit cheats? Imprisoning hoodies? Making all police officers dress like that nice Nick from Heartbeat? They are gagging for it.

Still, I think John Harris is quite right to point out that the drubbing handed to the Conservatives at this year's local elections doesn't represent any kind of existential crisis for the party. As Harris put it:
Conservatism – or, at least, support for it – remains something deeply rooted in the fabric of English life. It expresses a huge dislike of organised labour, a belief in private property as the foundation of civilisation, and a defining suspicion of the state. For the most part it is hostile to change – but at least once, it has risen to a moment that demanded it.
But could the rose garden offer Nick and Dave once last chance at happiness before the rots sets in for good? Well, maybe. The Guardian's Polly Curtis conducted an interesting investigation yesterday about whether bad weather did actually have an impact on voter turnout. Her conclusion (SPOILER ALERT) was that no, it didn't, but there's no doubt that we British are suckers for the pathetic fallacy. As soon as the sun is out, it's bikinis on and smiling faces aplenty. That whirring sound in the background might just be Tory HQ indulging in a spot of cloud seeding...

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