Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Number 10

What a difference a day makes, at least in Great Britain. Among the things Americans find fascinating about British politics is how fast governments change there. One moment Prime Minister Gordon Brown steps outside Number 10 Downing Street to announce his resignation...and the next the new prime minister and the new deputy prime minister, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, step up to the same spot to take over.

                                Mirror images, or savvy partners?

The only inefficient aspect of the business is that Brown had to visit the Queen to officially resign, and Cameron had to visit her to officially claim office. But it's still a lot faster than the months of transition we're used to after an American presidential election. The photo of Cameron and Clegg (above), taken by Matt Cardy for Getty Images, establishes the unusual nature of last week's British election. We understand from the image that England's first coalition government since World War II will be a partnership--a reassuring note for a country looking for solid leadership after in inconclusive election. Will Cameron, from the Conservative Party, and Clegg, a Liberal Democrat, get along as well as the picture suggests? Are they mirror images of each other, or will their agendas eventually take them in different directions? For now, the England needed a nice spot of sunshine, and it got it...a new day.

Contrast that with this shot, by Cathal Mcnaughton for Reuters, of the former PM stepping outside Number 10 during the period when Cameron and Clegg were working out their power-sharing deal. The man is imprisoned by his own inability to step out  from the rain cloud that seems to perpetually hang over him.

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