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UK General Election: Charisma Bypass

Business, Economics, Europe
By John Richardson on 07-May-2010

David Cameron

david-cameron2.gifSource picture: right up north



By John Richardson

Nothing to do with chemicals, but indulge me – this is a once-in-five-years event.

I really miss, in some ways, the pantomime politics of the 1980s and early 1990s when you had clear enemies (in my case Thatcher, as she devastated large swathes of the country as she closed down coal mines, steel mills and most of our manufacturing industry).

It was emotional, it was tribal, it could be very irrational, it was still driven by the old British class system, but each party had clear policies and so you knew where they stood.

As the parties have coalesced into the bland middle so the personalities seem to have become equally bland. This might be a lot better for running an economy, but it makes for poor entertainment.

So despite all the excitement over a hung parliament, watching the speeches of the three main candidates has been, on the whole, about as engaging as watching paint dry.

And as my wife, Connie, so eloquently said this morning:

“Gordon Brown seems very serious and intelligent and is probably a decent bloke but has no charisma.

“David Cameron seems like the annoying swotty, teacher’s-pet kid from school who always did his homework on time, always put his hand up first, and everyone else hated.

Nick Clegg seems OK but looks about 12. Perhaps he can be the dinner monitor but not the PM.

“At least in the olden days politicians had a bit of gravitas; even if you didn’t agree with them you could appreciate their intelligence. Michael Heseltine with his floppy patrician hairstyle, Ken Clarke with his relaxed ‘have a drink and we’ll sort it out’ air, Thatcher with her 20 cans of hairspray hairstyle…..those were the days.

And I always liked the fact that Ken Clarke’s wife didn’t look like a WAG wannabe.”

Or as a friend puts it: “Comparing Cameron to Obama, which I’ve heard recently, is a bit like finding out your favourite song has ended up in a commercial for a cheap fast-food restaurant.”