The photographers, out on the jolly, seemed to take pleasure in capturing very odd body language (example, right), while the columnists were just out for a laugh, The Guardian‘s Michael White as much as anyone:
Almost exactly two years after their fateful tryst in the Downing Street rose garden, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are sick and tired of people likening their coalition knee-trembler to a marriage. Politically speaking, they’re not even engaged. And, if they were, they’d be dividing up the CDs after last week’s election battering.
Where better to shake off the taint of matrimonial metaphor and renew their alliance on a more business-like footing than in Basildon? No one goes on honeymoon to Basildon. Southend perhaps, but not to the 60s new town, home patch of the legendary reality TV show, The Only Way is Essex. So Essex it was.
Just to be on the safe side and eradicate the last vestigial scent of the rose garden romance (how could they have behaved that way on a first date?), their minders dispatched the pair to the thriving, Fiat-owned New Holland factory where they assemble 26,000 tractors a year, mostly for export. If only all Britain could be like this!
The macho, male-dominated backdrop thus provided for the Cameron-Clegg anniversary speeches, plus Q&A, was strangely evocative of the Soviet era of heroic five-year tractor plans and targets regularly smashed, at least on paper.
Ann Treneman, in the new “Dave-not-so-friendly” Times [£], was up for the odd zinger, too:
A mere two years ago Dave and Nick strolled down the garden path, birds singing, sun shining, bees buzzing. I suppose the danger signs were there last year when they spent their first anniversary at the handball arena in the Olympic Park. But tractors?
Next year, who knows? Maybe it will be an abattoir.
The award for Murdochian butchery, though, must go to Michael Savage’s twitter message:
The tractor factory Cam and Clegg are visiting appears to make Big Blue tractors that pull little yellow trailers…
Another dimension of If
Joy, indeed, to find old-friends back among the strips in The Guardian. Steve Bell has brought back Seaman Kipling, apparently for the Falklands anniversary:
The penguins can never be far away — another of Bell’s inspired creations.
No Bell artefact could possibly be cute and cuddly. His penguins are not the photogenics featured by the London Zoo. They have teeth. They bite. As did Professor Pongoo, who ran fifth (behind two assorted Hendersons and a couple of Tories — by the way, it looks as if the Scottish Tories haven’t quite got the hand of this transferable vote business) in the Edinburgh Pentland Hills Ward. As is widely reported and commented upon, Pongoo was well ahead of the LibDem. Which is one of the two “astonishing statistics” about that Ward: the other is that all but fifty of eight thousand ballots cast were deemed “valid votes”. The strong temptation must have been to scrawl Trams!, and leave it at that— one issue above all else did for any hope the Edinburgh LibDems had, as well as for any vestige of a competent reputation. What doesn’t get so noted in the reports is that Pongoo also bit off the Green candidate. That ought to be worthy of note, for the Greens in Scotland are pro-SNP referendum, and had a working relationship with the SNP in the 2007 Assembly, so have some claim to be a “national” party.
One last thought
For now, at any rate.
There’s a lot of imposturing pretence in politics at any time. With the revelations we are promised from Leveson, courtesy of Mrs Brooks and Coulson, there’s rather more than usual this week.
For all the palaver over the Queen’s Speech, it took much padding to get it to stretch out over a mauvais quart d’heure.
So, back to Kipling and If.
We are blaming it on you, Cameron and Clegg. Even among your own, many doubt you. You have, most assuredly, dealt in lies. As Peter Cruddas crudely expounded, some men, those laden with lucre, clearly count with you … too much. You walked and talked, and rode, with Murdoch’s, and — with that and the 50p tax rate — were seen to lose the common touch. You can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of twaddle and distortion. You certainly don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.
Your reward: even the Bookies are giving odds that that Labour will be the biggest party after the next Election.