He was from Eton and Oxford, he was from Westminster and Cambridge; they'd flirted with each other for years, and then, finally, it happened.
The Week in Politics
• He was from Eton and Oxford, he was from Westminster and Cambridge; they’d flirted with each other for years, and then, finally, it happened: on a gorgeous sun-kissed afternoon in a rose garden in central London, the Hugh Grant and Colin Firth of British politics tied the knot in front of the nation’s media,
man and husband prime minister and deputy prime minister, or as Steve Bell in yesterday’s Guardian so brilliantly lampooned it, “man and butler”.
Unthinkable only a week ago, even more on unthinkable on Monday night when Nick Clegg, “behaving like every harlot in history” as David Blunkett put it, had played footsie with Lord Mandelson, Alastair Campbell and Lord Adonis, only to dash their hearts by running back to the Tories, using Labour to screw yet more out of the Tories.
It was brutally efficient: Brown’s resignation as prime minister on Tuesday evening, David Cameron’s arrival in Downing Street, Clegg’s pally double act, the first meeting of the new cabinet, and today Cameron’s honeymoon visit to Scotland – with Mr Alexander and not Mr Clegg. Cue the Eastenders drumroll…
• Mr Brown’s dramatic resignation – first as Labour leader and then prime minister – brought to an end 13 years of Labour government, and brought with it a flood of tributes for the former PM; admiration at the dignified manner of his departure, gratitude for his leadership in troubled times, and no shortage of thanks for his role in saving the economy.
On twitter, he was praised for “protecting the vulnerable & the undervalued”, “for 10 years of economic growth and saving the economy in the recession”, ” for sure start, tax credits, minimum wage, the ban on cluster bombs, record NHS and education spending, & saving the economy”, for his “record on international development” and “for not flinching in the face of economic meltown,but instead leading us through with courage”. His successor in Downing Street has much to live up to.
• The race to succeed him as leader of the Labour Party, meanwhile, kicked off in earnest, with David Miliband first to throw his hat in the ring, followed by, well, erm, no one yet, but among those who’ve not ruled themselves out are brother Ed; Balls, Ed; Cruddas, Jon; Burnham, Andy; Byrne, Liam; and Meacher, Michael.
Over the weeks ahead, Left Foot Forward will be keeping you up to date with all the developments in the contest. Earlier today, we wrote of the need for the party to take its time in choosing a new leader, not least because the emergency Budget is scheduled for late June. Would the party really want to be focused on itself rather than the future of the country, looking inwards rather than out at this crucial juncture?
Progressives of the week
The “fair votes now” protesters in parliament at the weekend, who descended on Liberal Democrat talks in Westminster, with a 30,000-signature petition which said: “This Parliament does not represent us. We demand fair votes now. There must never again be an election under this broken system.” Up to 150,000 emailed the Lib Dems demanding “no PR, no deal”. Left Foot Forward was there to cover the action.
Regressives of the week
Demoted, disgraced, yet still in government – shoulder-to-shoulder with Liberal Democrats, Liberal Democrats – the homophobic former shadow home secretary Chris Grayling, who Mr Cameron has appointed junior pensions minister rather than sack outright. And his successor as home secretary? None other than Theresa May, who voted against the repeal of Section 28, voted against lowering the age of consent in homosexual relationships to 16 and voted against gay adoption rights. A Facebook campaign is already seeking her removal. You wonder why Mr Cameron even bothered.
Evidence of the week
The Fabian Society briefing paper on Monday which revealed that 18 of the Lib Dems’ 57 seats – 32 per cent of them – would fall to Labour if only one in four Lib Dem voters defected. If just one in ten switched sides, Labour would gain seven seats from the LDs. The picture is just as bleak in Lib-Con marginals: in the south west of England, the Tories are within striking distance of 11 of the party’s 13 seats; a few Lib Dem voters staying at home or switching to Labour would see the seats turn blue.
What’s trending on Twitter
Among the most tweeted trends this week are:
• The Lib-Con coalition;
• The Campbell-Boulton duel on College Green; and
• Theresa May’s appointment to the Home Office.
Here is a selection of tweets lambasting the new coalition:
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