Five years is a long time in anyone’s life. Once past the glowing perfection of youth, it’s pretty much downhill all the way. Unless, of course, you are a leading coalition politician. Look at them! Positively shiny! Austerity? The austerity of the health spa for them, all tai chi, kale smoothies, and seaweed wraps. They look fabulous!
The thought struck me last night watching Nick Clegg on Newsnight. He’s just loved being in government. And he’s hungry to stay there. With all the desperate, open-faced longing of a BGT contestant pleading for admittance to the instant fame machine, Clegg wills the electorate to love him, to understand him, to give him another chance. Because power is just so goddamn more-ish.
Cameron, too, looks untouched by the worries of government. Mr. Smooth is rather less puppyish about power than his ornamental Deputy Prime Minister; he was born to it, after all. Dave looks for all the world like a man with a healthy work/life balance; a life of chillaxed brunches, country suppers, box sets, date nights. OK, so for half an hour a week, six months a year, he has to psyche himself up to bully a nerdy comprehensive school oik across the despatch box, but it’s all just another blood sport, like riding to hounds. A manly pastime that gets the endorphins going.
Osborne’s had the full health spa make-over package followed by a session with a personal shopper. He’s lost the incipient gut, got himself a butch hairdo, and that new wardrobe, well, what can I say? It’s stunning. A full range of hi-vis jackets, Village People-style hard hats, and a supporting cast of a business donor’s workforce press-ganged into listening with rapt attention to his every repetition of “long term economic plan”.
So, my fellow voters, ask yourself this – do you look younger, lovelier, more chilled, more sexily contented now than you did five years ago? You may even want to ask whether your home’s a bit colder than it used to be, or whether you’ve taken to hiding Lidl cereal in a branded box so the kids don’t know that you’re struggling with the grocery bills. No, not the last bits; that would be churlish.
Because the Con-Dem Coalition has been very good indeed for the people who matter.