a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

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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What nation is top dog in the digital revolution

Posted on the December 14th, 2007

The United Kingdom is ahead of the pack in the digital revolution, says James Thickett, Director of Research of Ofcom, the UK’s official regulatory body of communications industries.

The pack he’s referring to is made up of the twelve countries surveyed for a new Ofcom report just released yesterday. Nations studied were France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Japan, Canada, the UK, and the U.S. The report on the global communications market also provides a look at the four arriving powerhouse economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Some of the Ofcom report findings were:

  • The UK is picking up digital television at a higher rate than other countries, with 76 percent of UK households having gone digital by the end of 2006. In second place was the U.S., with 61 percent, followed by Japan with 60 percent;
  • Broadband connections had arrived at over half of all UK households by the end of 2006, bringing the country ahead of the U.S., for the first time;
  • Women use the Internet more than men, both in the UK and in the U.S. In the United States, women, at 52 percent, led men in online presence, while in the UK men and women spent the same amount of time online except in the 18-34 age group where women were a leap ahead of men in percent of use (57 to 43).

Thickett summarizes the new Ofcom report findings in a video presentation (below). He particularly highlights what he describes as enormous growth in mobile communications across the globe.

In the sector of mobile phones, for example, he said the UK has one of the highest rates of growth in the world, with 115 mobile connections for every 100 people. Only Italy has a higher rate, with 130 connections for every 100 people.

This massive rate of growth in the use of mobile phones also is happening in Brazil, Russia, India and China, according to Thickett, with those countries accounting for over 40 percent worldwide of new mobile connections.

The full report is available online

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