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8 May 2012

Political sketch: Cam and Clegg in Basildon

Re-making those coalition vows from the Rose Garden days.

By Peter McHugh

The County of Essex has attracted notoriety for exporting perma-tanned men onto the national stage via network television. Today, it reversed the trend.

This time 15 minutes of fame was bestowed upon unsuspecting Basildon as those who chose the Downing Street Rose Garden to plight their troth two years ago decided a bit of plighting further afield would be wiser. They left home in the same car to fool the paparazzi into thinking they were still together, but the days when Dave had his hand firmly up Nick’s back – and he liked it – were clearly gone.

Instead it was more panic than passion which united them as both tried to come to terms with the full import of last Thursday’s drubbing in the town so associated with Tory breakthroughs in the past.

But Ed Miliband had got in first with his own lightning raid on Essex earlier – as if electors had not done enough by voting Labour – to rub salt, vinegar and cayenne pepper into the wound by adopting the pledge of Mrs Thatcher 30 years ago to make life better for its locals.

So just 24 months after love’s young dream made its way shyly on to the sun-lit lawn at the back of No 10, today’s battered and bruised version turned up at a rain-sodden tractor factory for their own version of TOWIE (Radio’s 3 and 4 listeners: consult Google at this stage).

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No longer joined-at-the-hip-Nick could only stare into space as Dave told his clearly unimpressed audience (nattily, and one assumes deliberately, outfitted in blue and yellow tops) that times were hard all round.

Nick then popped up to promise optimism and growth before launching into a two-handed version of the Jeremy Kyle Show.

But as fast as the Prime Minister and Deputy re-made their coalition vows to the Bored of Basildon, MPs in both their parties were lining up to publicly and privately disown them.

Dave finally remembered to slip off his jacket as the amateurs provided the dis-interested backdrop for the photo-call for which the press party had been dragged out of London. 

With the re-launch re-launched it was back to London for the rest of the week. It should be remembered that today was the latest attempt by David Cameron to re-launch his administration since his last latest re-launch two weeks ago, which was sunk by James Murdoch’s appearance at the Leveson inquiry.

With former spin doctor and erstwhile editor of the News of the World Andy Coulson due in the same stocks on Thursday, and Dave’s “ten texts a day” friend Rebekah Brooks booked to do a similar turn on Friday, this week already has the smell of death-delayed about it.

And forget not tomorrow’s Queens Speech where Dave and Nick will try and surely fail to avoid offending as many people as possible.

Do you think they rue the day they decided on a fixed term parliament, with 150 weeks like this one still to go?