Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Clegg Effect

A question to which I'll tell you the answer in a minute if you don't know: Who is Nick Clegg?

Actually, I'll make it easier: Who is David Cameron? Gordon Brown?

The answers are that Nick Clegg is the leader of the UK's Liberal Democrat party, while David Cameron is the current leader of the Conservative party (and likely to be next prime minister) and Gordon Brown is the current prime minister.

Why is this relevant? Well, as interesting as the upcoming US elections are, for the past few weeks in the UK we've been getting them right at the top of the news, ahead even of our own political stories. That annoys me, since it implies that the showiness of an election over which we have no say is winning out over elements of politics central to our wellbeing.

It also annoys me a little that the UK's media in general pay an awful lot of attention to US politics. The names of obscure members of the US government are common questions on TV quiz shows, the detail of the political discussions show up not just on our news but on our discussion programmes, and even our topical comedy shows give us a steady diet of US politics.

On a couple of levels I can understand it. The USA is currently the world's dominant power, so those politics affect us. Equally, the fact that those politics are conducted in English (or something vaguely approximating it in the case of the current president) makes them nice and accessible. Also there's the rather nonsensical idea of a 'special relationship' between Britain and the US, which seems to largely ignore the way countries work, but there you go.

Wouldn't it be useful though to occasionally hear about our own politicians? Just the other night, news of Palin's speach at the Republican whotsit made it onto British domestic news ahead of the story about Alex Salmond (the Scottish First Minister) opening the Scottish parliament for the session and setting out his legislative plans for the year. Wouldn't it also be nice if occasionally we also heard something about the politics of all those other countries that affect us in the UK. You know, the various members of the EU, Russia, China, the massive emerging economy of India...

No comments: