A few months back I wrote a piece for The Times arguing that straight couples should be allowed to have civil partnerships. But now that I’ve seen the UK’s first straight civil partnership ceremony in the Rose Garden of Number 10 Downing Street I’m not so sure.
In the romantic Spring sunshine the groom and the groom declared their ‘progressive partnership’ to the world and explained why they had decided to tie the knot with a full coalition – the first since the Second World War – instead of just having a more casual, living-together ‘confidence and supply’ shag-on-demand thing. “We both looked at each other and thought that it was uninspiring,‘’ said Dave Cameron, while Nick Clegg nodded and smiled serenely. Something he will probably have to get used to doing a lot of.
Labour supremo Lord Mandelson’s famous warning, ‘Vote for Nick Clegg and you’ll wake up with David Cameron’, proved only half true. He should have told us: ‘Vote for Clegg and you’ll wake up with Cameron and Clegg giving it to you both ends, no lube and definitely no poppers’. Two super posh, privileged trust-fund kids preaching from lecterns about the sacrifices the rest of us are going to have to make while they shack up in Downing Street every so kindly providing us with the ‘strong and stable government’ that they were so clearly born to deliver.
Although clips from the Leader’s Debates are being played now to contrast the bitter antipathy of the Lib Dem leader and the Tory leader just a week or so ago with their smug love-in now, it was very apparent back then, even as they rowed, that these two had much more in common with one another than with 99% of their audience. It was less X Factor than Blind Date.
Some say that Cameron hasn’t any real interest in Clegg and is just using his, er, mandate, but I think that’s a little unfair. Cameron is very interested indeed in Clegg and will hug and hold him closer than his favourite pajama case. After all, Clegg was fashioned largely as a Lib Dem knock-off of Cameron (and Cameron of course was a Tory knock-off of Labour posh boy Tony Blair). Cameron really does love Clegg — because it’s like looking in the mirror. And because Clegg is the Tory wet that Cameron wants you to mistake him for.
They make a lovely, cloney-sloaney celeb couple, CleggCam, and they’re now living at the top address in the country. Their mothers must be so proud. But my cynical eye can’t help but alight on certain details that don’t augur quite so well for their ‘progressive partnership’. Such as the scary way that Cameron sprang out of No.10 to greet Clegg this morning like a smiley but very hungry trapdoor spider, quickly dragging Clegg into the bowels of Downing Street.
Yes, it was cute the way that they both tried to place their hand on each other’s back, to broadcast to the world they were both ‘versatile’ – but as the big, heavy door to No.10 began to close, it was Cameron’s hand ever-so gallantly, but ever-so firmly in the small of Clegg’s back, pushing him forwards into their ‘new politics’. And probably, after the door slammed shut, over.