Nick Clegg: The Movie is now a thing. Photo: Getty
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Would you watch a film about Nick Clegg? Channel 4 thinks so

A new TV drama will include the Lib Dem leader as its central character, in a show about the creation of the coalition.

The character of the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will be the protagonist of a new TV film being made by Channel 4. He will be the unlikely key part in a drama written by James Graham, the playwright behind such recent political theatre treats as This House and Privacy. The drama will follow the tortuous, tense backroom dealings that led, in the space of days, to the creation of the coalition.

The film will be a one-off, 90-minute creation and has the working title Coalition.

The Telegraph reports playwright Graham's explanation of his rather niche idea for a drama:

In May 2010, British politics was faced with a dilemma it hadn't had to face in peacetime for over 75 years. The public were asked 'Who should govern?', and they came back with the answer 'We don't know'.

What we try to capture in this drama is the tension, the high stakes, and the frequent farcical and absurd nature of what happens when a power is wrangled, negotiated and fought over like children trading cards in the playground.

In May 2010, after decades of single party rule and amidst growing disillusionment, all eyes turned to one man. A man who found himself with the power to change the landscape of British politics - and his career - forever. But at what cost?

Rather convincing. But Clegg's team seems less sure about the idea. One spokesperson joked to the Telegraph "That would explain why Brad Pitt keeps calling", whereas Michael Savage of the Times was told by a source close to the Deputy Prime Minister, "That explains why Daniel Craig has been calling", and the Guardian's Nicholas Watt had "that would explain why George Clooney's been calling".

Twitter has other ideas, citing, among others, Colin Firth, Hugh Dennis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ricky Gervais and, err, Idina Menzel.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.