It never ceases to amaze and move me the grace with which the losing girls make their exit from Over the Rainbow — a grace which Gordon Brown also displayed as he made his final departure from Number 10 Downing Street.
Last Thursday, the British electorate went to the polls to elect a new government. Although there were still 53 seats to declare, it was clear, by the time I got up on Friday morning, that there was no clear winner and that we were well into “hung parliament territory” — where no party has an outright majority and either the largest party has to seek to govern alone or two of the three major parties form a coalition.
“The British people have spoken, Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, a former leader of the Liberal Democrat Party declared, “only nobody seems to know what they’ve said.” (The general consensus seems to be that the result is not a repudiation of the Labour Party, which Gordon Brown leads, but of Brown himself, and it is not an endorsement of David Cameron and the Conservatives, who have the largest number of seats.)
The leaders of Britains’s third largest party, the Liberal Democrats suddenly found themselves, therefore, in the role of “kingmaker”, as they opened began negotiations with the party which had gained the most seats, the Conservative Party, while Gordon Brown, the current Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party which has governed the country for the last thirteen years, remained in 10 Downing Street, the UK premier’s official residence, and considered his options.
Aware that Nick Clegg, current Lib-Dem leader has stated that he cannot work with Brown (they reputedly had a blazing row over the telephone on Friday night), and hoping to facilitate a raprochment between the Lib-Dems and Labour (as “progressives”, they are, after all, more likely bedfellows than the Lib-Dems and the Conservatives, who many Lib-Dems detest), Brown announced on Monday afternoon that, for the good of the country, he would remain Prime Minister until the country had a stable and principled government in place and that he would then resign for the next Labour Party leader to be elected before the Party Conference season in the autumn.
The Prime Minister’s decision was widely hailed as “dignified”. Until, that is, people realised that it meant another five months of Gordon Brown.
On Tuesday and today, I decided not to work (as a supply teacher, I have that option), and, although I am meant to be reveiwing a book for Harper Collins, I remained riveted to my nice new 32″ Sony Bravia TV as events unfolded.
On Tuesday, in a move which political commentator, Andrew Neill, on his Politics Today programme described as duplicitous, the Lib-Dems began negotiations with the Labour Party and the possibility of a progressive coalition (by a whisker my preferred option) opened up. Another commentator on his show described the situation as “a shambles”, and hardly likely to engender enthusiasm for electoral reform, which the Lib-Dems, are insisting on.
When I left home to do the shopping and the front pages of the (Tory) tabloid press were venomous in their condemnation of Cleggs’s actions.
But the Maths never really added up. Such a coalition would be dependent on the support of the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists and in Scotland Labour and the Scots Nats who form a coalition in the Scottish Parliament detest each other, despite both being progressive parties. “Coalitions”, a senior Labour figure in Scotland with first hand esperience of the arrangement, “are more about personalities than policies.”
In addition, a number of senior Labour politicians like John Reid, Scottish Secretary, and David Blunkett, former Home Secretary, have no stomach for coalition government. It would make Labour extremely unpopular and unlikely to win the next general election and Blunkett has bad memories of the last minority Labour government (1976-79) when Jim Callaghan’s government had to rule with the support of the Liberals and MPs forced to attend late night sittings of the House of Commons to ensure that the Party remained in government, died at the rate of one every three months.
Yesterday afternoon, as it became clear that, after only five days, the Conservative and Lib-Dem negotiating teams had struck a deal, and less than 24 hours after his press conference of the day before, Gordon Brown again appeared before the microphones in front of 10 Downing Street to announce that it was his intention to tender his resignation to the Queen, Britain’s Head of State. He thanked his parliamentary colleagues, his staff and above all his wife, Sarah, and his two young sons and almost choked as he said that as he left the second best job he could hope to hold, he cherished the first, that of husband and father, even more.
He then said “Thank you and goodbye” in a manner which brought to mind comparisons with Rod Steiger’s portrayal of Napolen’s Farewell to the Old Guard following his abdication as Emperor of the French in 1814.
He then walked with his wife and sons a short way down Downing Street to an awaiting Jaguar which drove him, down Birdcage Walk to the Queen’s London residence, Buckingham Palace, his route being tracked by aerial camera as he made his way. After he emerged from the Palace, he was driven the Labour Party headquarters, where, in a very gracious speech, he thanked his staff.
At the same time, David Cameron, whose negotiating team had hammered out a generous deal with the Liberal Democrats, which would see the Lib-Dems cherished goal of electoral reform being partially realised with a promise of a referendum on the introduction of a system called AV (Alternative Vote), though not full Proportional Representation, and which would see major Lib-Dem figures in the cabinet, was driven in a silver Jaguar, reflecting the crepuscular light, to the Palace to be invited to form a government.
After accepting, he was then driven to 10 Downing Street, where he made a short and sober address to the awaiting press, as befitting the huge problems that he and Nick Clegg, leader of the Lib-Dems and now Deputy Prime Minister, and their respective parties face, while his pretty young wife, Samantha, looked on.
Turning now to that other electoral process which continues to exercise the British Public, “Over the Rainbow”, Jenny, who has by far and away the most beautiful singing voice in the competition, but who failed to establish a working rapport with the dog chosen to play Toto in “the Lord’s” forthcoming West End production of The Wizard of Oz, and Lauren who, only a week earlier wowed the audience with her rendition of “The Man Who Got Away”, appeared in the sing-off with the Lord saying gloodbye to Jenny.
The public voted a second time and on the following day, Jessica and Danielle appeared in the sing-off and, thinking of the role of Dorothy, chose to save Danielle, since the departure of Stephanie the youngest contestant who remains, leaving Lauren, Danielle, Steff, who moved me (and herself) to tears with her rendition of “Somewhere”, and Sophie.
Defying Gravity – Over The Rainbow – Episode 13 – BBC One
Dorothy Medley – Over The Rainbow – Episode 13 – BBC One
Steph’s Performance – Over The Rainbow – Episode 13 – BBC One
The Sing Off – Over The Rainbow – Episode 13 – BBC One
Goodbye Jenny – Over The Rainbow – Episode 13 – BBC One
Dorothy Mash Up – Over The Rainbow – Episode 14 – BBC One
The Totos Meet The Dorothys – Over The Rainbow – Episode 14 – BBC One
The Sing Off – Over The Rainbow – Episode 14 – BBC One
The Result – Over The Rainbow – Episode 14 – BBC One
Goodbye Jessica – Over The Rainbow – Episode 14 – BBC One
While Steff is a good all-round performer, I believe that Danielle’s voice is more beautiful than Steff’s and, in addition, she is a consummate actress, as her Mambo Italiano and the sing-off with Steff on Sunday shows, and I predict that if they both reach the final, the job will go to Danielle.
It never ceases to amaze and move me the grace with which the losing girls make their exit from Over the Rainbow, a grace which Gordon Brown also exhibited as he made his final departure from Number 10 Downing Street.
Whatever the future holds for all those girls who made it to episodes 11 and 12, all of them have some kind of a future in entertainment.
As for Gordon Brown, it seems that he will have some high level role as president of the IMF or World Bank.