a curious Yankee in Europe's court

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Is the laugh on him? Nick Clegg and the cartoonists

Posted on the July 18th, 2010

In a recent Pew Research poll, only 19 percent of a random sample of 1,007 U.S. adults surveyed knew the name of UK Prime Minister David Cameron. So it follows, don’t you think, that the number who know Cameron’s governing coalition partner, Nick Clegg, would ring in even lower.

Too bad for those Americans living in their blissful political ignorance. The UK Cameron-Clegg coupling is (among other more serious matters), a most interesting spectator sport for political junkies.

Today’s Guardian carries a three-minute video interview with political cartoonist Chris Riddell. He’s shown putting the final touches on a cartoon about Clegg.

The video tops an article on how minority party leader Clegg is faring in the satirical vision of UK political cartoonists (“Nick Clegg as a cartoon figure – it’s fun but does it really hurt?” by Peter Preston, July 18, 2010).

As you need to know at least the ABCs of present UK politics to understand the cartoon, here’s a starter: in order to win his current Prime Minister title after a too-close-to-call election, so to speak, Conservative (Tory) Party leader Cameron was forced to form a first-of its kind coalition government with the third place vote winner, Liberal Democrat Party (Lib Dem) leader Nick Clegg.

It was a marriage made in the upheaval heaven of a confused and unhappy British electorate. But, though fascinating in its unprecedented nature, the pairing was predicted to be hell for one, or both, of the political marital mates Cameron and Clegg.

Excerpt from the article: (quote from cartoonist Peter Brookes):

The Lib Dems are a party to the left of Labour and they are doing the Tories’ bidding – they are fig leaves, being used to justify Tory policy. “At PMQs, you can see Clegg immediately behind Cameron. You can tell he’s uncomfortable, as you would be if you were having all this stuff heaped upon you by the Tories. The whole thing is riddled with these wonderful, strange anomalies that will never be resolved, which is why the coalition is so good for cartoonists.

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