Wednesday, 12 May 2010
After a year of speculation about an election, a month of actual campaigning, one night of results and five days of coalition talks, Britain finally has a new government...and it's one very few people were expecting!
David Cameron's Conservative Party failed to get an overall majority, so they have entered into a coalition with the unlikely bedfellows of Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats. This is the political equivalent of one those cute animal stories where a lion adopts an orphaned owl and they snuggle together adoringly across the species.
In fact watching Dave n' Nick's press conference from the rose garden at Downing Street earlier, I wouldn't have been surprised if they started snuggling up in front of the cameras themselves. It was like the conclusion of one of those rom coms where the protagonists 'hate' each other until they admit they just can't keep their hands off each other. Two former political foes billing and cooing at each other amid the mid-May birdsong.
For someone who has been pretty much glued to the rolling news since polls closed on at 10pm on the 6th, following each crazy twist and turn like a political junkie on a rollercoaster, this giggle-fest was almost the last straw for my weary soul. It took a lot of willpower not to reach for a stiff drink at 2pm to make it all go away.
As someone who has consistently voted for the Lib Dems since 2001 in all elections, even the last London Mayoral Election when they stood the weirdest candidate they could find, I am feeling somewhat discombobulated. My vote for a pro-European party that opposes Trident and supports financial breaks for poorer people had got an old Etonian elected as PM. But it had also allowed the usually sidelined third party to have five Cabinet seats and force a referendum on electoral reform. My feelings on the subject cannot keep up with the pace of change.
Vince Cable finally gets a shot at bringing level-headedness and foresight to the Treasury. This almost makes up for the man child George Osborne getting Chancellor. Cameron also creates a Cabinet almost entirely of elected politicians rather than the large numbers of unelected representatives from the House of Lords Labour had. The Lib Dems manage to get the Tories to agree to increased tax thresholds and Capital Gains tax along with that aforementioned referendum. Maybe this LibCon love in isn't so bad?
And then you realise that Cameron's Cabinet has one solitary woman onboard and she's holding three positions at once. Yes, Theresa May confirms stereotypes of multi-tasking and takes on Home Secretary, Minister for Women and Minister for Equality. This wouldn't be so bad if she didn't have a record as long as her arm for voting against measures of equality, especially on abortion limits and reproductive rights for gays and lesbians. It would seem that the sole woman in the Cabinet hates women.
I hardly have enough political ire left for the fact that certifiable right wing nut job Liam Fox will be Secretary for Defence while William Hague brings his brand of narrow mindedness to being Foreign Secretary. The fact that social conservative Iain Duncan Smith, a man who can barely open a milk carton according to those in the know, will be in charge of the Department of Work and Pensions makes me fear that I will soon be blogging (and begging) from the poorhouse.
I like to think that once the political furore dies down and news specials no longer replace Eastenders at the last minute as political correspondents look shell shocked, I will be able to get my head around all the political upheaval of the past week. I might even been able to consider the whole coalition rationally rather than feeling like I've been punched in the chest politically each time I realise what has just happened. I just wonder if I'll be able to do it before the coalition is over in five years time?
ETA: about 30 seconds after I posted this, Baroness Warsi became the first British Muslim woman to hold a Cabinet position....see what I mean about non stop?