Thursday, April 22, 2010

The British Obama - Nick Clegg

The British Obama - Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg, Lib Dem leader with Obama-style hero for our times, a Churchillian leader or a popular rebel in the mould of Che Guevara? Perhaps he's just another great British underdog. For Barack Obama, the crucial moment came one cold night in January 2008, when the one-term senator's unexpectedly decisive triumph in the Iowa caucuses set him on the path to an epoch-making victory. For Nick Clegg, it happened last week, when he stepped back from his debate podium to address a retired toxicologist from Cheshire.

Obama promised to transcend America's troubled racial past and the culture wars of the 1960s. Clegg promises to make the drivers of night buses let you get off between stops, and to refund VAT to mountain rescue services. (Oh, and cut taxes on low earners, break up the banks, and scrap the Trident replacement.) From Yeovil to Cornwall, from northern Bristol to certain areas of Surrey, there is a frisson, a whisper of possibility: Yes, we can. Well, maybe. And probably not, actually, because of the first-past-the-post voting system. And yet you can feel it in the air: the fierce urgency of Nick; the audacity of Clegg.

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