Thursday, 13 May 2010

What has David Cameron got in common with Mr Tumble?

You know those shifty side-glances that they give on Eastenders when they're secretly lying, cheating, murdering or harbouring a murderer? Expressions so lacking in subtlety and nuance that even Mr Tumble would balk at such unrefined delivery? I'm assuming that there must be a master-class out there - not for acting per se - but more to learn the necessary skills to convey a message in such a way that even a simpleton would comprehend. If so, our nation's politicians have been eagerly attending. 

We all feel desperation at the way slogans and sound bites have eclipsed well thought-out policies and genuine information. But now we have a body language obsession that has replaced 'things that humans do naturally' with 'things that baboons do to prove their top monkey in their troop'. Before you counter that what we 'do naturally' is no more than a sophisticated version of monkey signals anyway, I would like to say that I agree - but can we try and maintain our sophisticated standards? 

What set me off yesterday was Nick Clegg arriving at 10 Downing Street, greeted by David Cameron as the eyes of the world were upon them/us. And here is what happened: 

If you haven't got a whole 48 seconds to spare, the main action starts at about 20 seconds. Despite the hours spent in negotiations, Clegg already being an experienced politician and head of his party and the fact that the time and place to discuss what needs doing is a stone's throw from the other side of the door, Cameron decides to give Nick a little pep talk. Taking him by the hand and making open-handed, pointed gestures at him, he clearly is telling Nick how very important this whole Deputy Prime Minister lark is. Good. Glad that's cleared up then. (They didn't show a live stream of Cameron greeting the cleaner with a handshake and authoritative mopping gestures which was a shame.) 

If there was anything that saved the day, for me at any rate, it was Clegg's response which was to wave away Cameron's paternal patronising. It was still an act for the cameras of course, but a considerably less staged one. What does it say about the future of this coalition? Mostly that it doesn't bode well I guess. 

Oh, and in answer to the question posed in the title - could it be that Mr Tumble is providing an excellent service in an appropriate and accessible manner for his audience? As a one of the British electorate I'm not sure I feel qualified to say any more. 

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