Friday, April 30, 2010

Electioneering

This photo in today's NYT, by Jeff Overs, is truly ridiculous - Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown doing a kind of uneasy cabaret routine together. This is a news photographer's dream - getting two people in apparent choreographed synchronicity when, of course, it's highly improbable that they had planned their chorus kicks.

It's strange following a general election from afar - I guess this is only the second time that I've done it. In 2005 I was giving a lecture at a liberal arts college somewhere in upstate New York - the kind of weird tiny place that you'd expect a murder mystery to be set in - and I bargained to be put up in a hotel - I think it was a Comfort Inn - with internet. But there wasn't a connection strong enough to carry the BBC broadcast, so I gave up my favorite practice of listening to all the results coming in, and went to bed in a disappointed sulk. This time, of course, I've carefully planned to be in front of the TV in Wimbledon. But what will it feel like to be detached from the outcome? I'm very glad that I don't have a vote, because I don't have to wrack my conscience about where to put my X. And two out of the three candidates don't figure in my own political experience - gone are the days in which I can cheerfully say that I was involved in an Oxford revue with Tony Blair. This is not, I should say, a contact of which I'm particularly proud, and I can't really claim to have known him well, in any case, since he was a Clean Living Boy - so far as I could tell - and didn't mix a whole lot with my particular dramatic crowd - except when his band Ugly Rumours played for a Marlowe-inspired musical called Faustrock. For the sartorial record, he had a particularly bad-taste pair of purple loons. They would clash badly with his current orangey tan. It's unbelievable that the Labour Party thinks that it's a plausible strategy to wheel him out on the campaign trail - if they are trying this as a gamble, it shows how bad things must be.

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