David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is in a bind. Not because recent opinion polls put his party a dozen points behind Labour and not even, really, because the British economy continues to splutter along in search of a long overdue recovery.
On Friday, May 7, for the first time since 1974, we woke up the morning after the British election and didn’t know who our prime minister would be. No party had won an absolute majority, and so, for a period that a BBC-TV documentary has dubbed the "Five Days that Changed Britain," Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, held the balance of power and negotiated with Gordon Brown, who was still entrenched as prime minister, and the Conservative leader, David Cameron. Finally, the Tories cut a deal with Clegg.
To the unschooled eye, the photograph of the 1987 class of the Oxford University Bullingdon Club could be mistaken for a 100-year-old image. The ten young men crowding the frame are dressed in long tails and blue bowties and pose on marble steps, most of them studiously looking away from the camera. But this is a relatively recent photo of members of the aristocratic, and destructive, drinking club: Participants honor the unofficial motto--"I like the sound of breaking glass"--by getting drunk and trashing private property.
He's been called Bill Clinton's smarter younger brother. The best Tory tacticians are terrified of him. At lunch-tables round Westminster, the prime minister's allies whisper about the looming electoral slaughter. As business leaders defect and opinion polls give Labour a stratospheric lead, there is now a fixed assumption in Britain that the next prime minister will be Tony Blair. A young-looking 43, he is a slim but strongly built man whose fast smile and self-deprecating patter convey the impression of relentless, perpetual movement.
By all measures, Gordon Brown’s Labour Party is going to be trounced at the British polls next month by either the Tories or the newly ascendant Liberal Democrats (or both). With Brown’s popularity lagging, it’s easy to forget that the Labour Party once represented an exciting modern progressive party—particularly back when Tony Blair was on his way to becoming prime minister, and he and Brown were heralded as the party's future.
The best-selling sports video in England at the moment is titled "Do I Not Like That." The sports section of The Independent on Sunday newspaper contains a column called "Do I Not Like That." On t.v. a few weeks ago, the hosts of a satirical soccer program wore t-shirts bearing the phrase "Do I Not Like That." A recent c.d. release on the hip Too Pure label is titled "Pop (Do We Not Like That?)." In a t.v. advertisement for the yellow pages, a middle-aged, slightly nerdish man exclaims, "Do I not like orange!" when offered a choice of colors for the goods he wants to order.