David Cameron is often accused of trying to steal too heavily from the Tony Blair playbook but he’s not the only one harking back to 1997. In that election, the then Tory chairman Brian Mawhinney hired an actor to dress up in chicken suit and follow Tony Blair around to highlight his refusal to take part in a leader’s debate. The confrontation ended when the Daily Mirror hired an actor to dress as a wolf and attack the Tory chicken during one such walkabout. Who says politics has got more juvenile in the last decade?
Anyway Mr Cameron – who probably wishes he had dodged the debate – is now being followed by a Mirror chicken apparently chasing him over unanswered questions. Mr Cameron today finally lost patience with the chicken although in a reasonably controlled and good-humoured way, decapitating the bird or at least ripping off its mask. More amusingly he then challenged the chicken to ask its questions; but of course, the chicken is just some poor bloke in a suit – it didn’t have any questions and looked around rather desperately for its Mirror minder. Read more
By Tony Barber on the FT’s Brussels blog
Viewed from Brussels, the rise of Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrats in Britain’s election campaign is a fantasy come true. For most of its 37 years in the European Union, Britain has been the bloc’s most awkward, cussed member-state. Now, the unthinkable is happening. Britain’s opinion polls are topped by a party whose leader spent five years working at the European Commission and another five years as a MEP in the European Parliament. Gott am Himmel! A Brit who actually understands the place! Read more
In most press commentary the presumption is still that Vince Cable would become Chancellor of the Exchequer under a coalition government involving the Lib Dems. It’s not quite clear why that would be the case.
In European coalitions the minority partner (still presuming the Lib Dems would be) is often given the job of foreign minister. Take Germany, where Guido Westerwelle, leader of the Free Democratic Party, is currently foreign minister in the Merkel-led coalition. Previously the role was taken by Green leader Joschka Fischer. Read more