BBC News Election Special: “Coalition of the winners”

And the winner is …. TV.  After months in advance of being told “it’s social media, stupid”, this election has made us realise that TV rules.

They can do fast, they can do slow.  They can give us the raw numbers, they can give us the raw human emotion. They have all the players and the movers and the shakers.  They can even get the movers and the shakers to hit each other when it gets a bit boring.

The only place they couldn’t yet get to was inside the Palace.  The badly taken snap of Cameron with her Madge – probably taken by Phil on his phone while making bad taste jokes about SamCam – was the last redoubt, shown rather embarassedly amongst the literally more moving footage.  Next time, next time we’ll have the Buck House CCTV and a Royal camera crew with live feeds to play into the 24 hour news.

This election – from the leaders debates to the common-sense defying but spot on exit polls, from the aerial shots of Whitehall to the No 10 door-step in and out – has been TV’s by a mile.

But interestingly, there is no coalition for these guys.  BBC, ITV and Sky still pretend the others don’t exist.  They’ll happily review all the papers and show off their Twitter feeds to demonstrate just how chébran they are.  But as they stand outside No 10 or on College Green they all seek to keep up the pretence that they’re the only TV crew there.

No 10 – or in Nick Robinson’s hypervent state “the most famous address in the world” (which I think the US president, the Pope and even the Queen might have grounds to query) – does provide the best backdrop for the chosen few political editors.  Hoi polloi have to goggle through the iron gates several hundred yards away.

No 10 is instantly recognisable and flatly iconic like a Warhol picture of a door.  It lends gravitas and honour to the chosen few allowed to stand in front.  It has sufficient comings and goings to make it interesting and yet not so many that it’s just another thoroughfare.  And they can be sure that no idiot will appear behind them and start doing silly walks.

The contrast was shown as round the corner in Whitehall, where the real coalition negotiations were taking place, the rag-tag mobs of the interested, the nutters, the rent-a-mob crowds calling for Troops Out and Fair Votes Now (what, you really want another election now?) were able to gather outside the unprotected Cabinet Office entrance.  As the party negotiators made their way to and from the discussions, they had to battle their way through crowds.  The next tier down of reporters trying to get across the nuances of who was asking for what from whom had to fight to make their voices heard – and they had mics.

It suggests to me that without their party spin doctors, the workaday Whitehall PR men either a) simply hadn’t thought through the reality of what was about to happen; or b) wanted to demonstrate just how unspun they were.  Well they succeeded – it looked crap. 

Even the dull local council which gets only 5 seconds of TV fame on election night as the returning officer intones has a nicely presented backdrop saying that “Bexley is the Brighter Borough” or whatever.  Work it up for next time:  “The Cabinet Office: making Government work for you”.  (Or how about “We’ve been keeping the minutes for over 100 years”.  You get the idea.)

The other TV trump card is the helicopter shot. You can’t do it on radio. Papers only really do close-ups.  But TV gloms onto an otherwise anonymous car weaving through traffic – and we sit transfixed because “the new Prime Minister is in THAT car”.  We followed DCam’s Jaguar stuck in traffic on the way to and back from the Palace.  I could imagine US protection detail watching dumbfounded as cyclists, Hondas and pedestrians casually passed around what is now the most high profile terrorist target in the UK.

But as quickly as TV has gathered, so will it pass.  Once the Cabinet positions have been doled out to the now requisite 6 Liberals (which is remarkable – from being derided by even the lowliest Tory backbencher a few weeks ago, every Lib Dem MP now stands a better than 1 in 10 chance of being a Cabinet minister), mainsteam TV will pack up and its attention will return to the inanity of celeb culture and 24 hour TV news returns to being the dull channel.

David Steel and Paddy Ashdown will be locked away in their special cupboard (where Charlie Kennedy has been kept handcuffed throughout) for the next time Cleggmania (or Clegg himself) explodes.  And David Dimbleby will be tucked up in a big bed and allowed to sleep for as long as he wishes.

Posted by arialbold


Filed under political coverage

18 responses to “BBC News Election Special: “Coalition of the winners”

  1. inkface

    Not great times for the non-penis wielding half of the human race I fear. Not heard one female name in a Cabinet post from Tories or Lib Dems as yet. And the only woman we’ve seen, other than her madge in that snapshot you mention, beaming like a Corgi that got a side of ham, is the pregnant Samcam in a demure blue dress and incongruous high heels standing silently and adoringly behind her man. Eugh eugh and eugh again.

  2. arialbold

    Two words of explanation: “public” and “school”. Women are either mothers or cooks (polite version).

    • pauseliveaction

      Don’t forget Mrs Balls.

    • inkface

      Did anyone else think Mrs C had a Virgin Mary vibe going on with that blue dress? We were just missing the donkey. Oh hang on. No we weren’t.

      • arialbold

        I also noticed that when Dave moved in for the clinch on the No 10 doorstep in front of the assembled world’s press, Mrs C moved her face to the side, as if the prospect of kissing a scary balloon-faced clown was repellant to her.

  3. inkface

    I meant the current ruling parties, not the departing one!

  4. Qwerty

    Lovely stuff. I too was transfixed by the silver Jag moving slowly along the road, but mainly because they didn’t seem 100% sure that it WAS the Cam-car. I was waiting for it to pull over at a Tesco Metro and some random little old lady to get out and buy cheese.

    Did anyone else notice that when Ham-Cam kissed Sam-Cam (crazy name, crazy high-heels) on the steps of Number 10 he squeezed her bosom? Her thousand watt smile flickered slightly as she realised that ‘Dave Gets A Grope At the Gate of Power’ would be the lead headline today. Except it isn’t; everyone but me is clearly too polite to mention it.

  5. Qwerty

    Also, and I’m sorry to focus on the PM’s wives but as Inky says, there are no other bloody women ANYWHERE, what about Sarah wearing a blue dress eh? Has she no loyalty?

    Sorry, turned into Rebekah Wade for a minute. Back to normal now.

  6. inkface

    Yes indeed. Just heard that news. About as much good for other women as Thatch I’d say.

    • arialbold

      I have to pass on Chris Addison’s tweet:

      “One minute you’re furious there are no women in the cabinet so far, next you hear Theresa May’s Home Secretary. It’s no-win, isn’t it?”

  7. chumbles

    Well, they’ve obviously read the comments and one of the top three ministerial posts is Theresa May as home secretary. A woman…

    I love the idea of the new pop coalition though:

    DCam ft the Clegginator

  8. chumbles

    Aargh! Sorry about this, but I’ve just spotted a classic Boris bit of b******s:

    The Conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said the coalition looked like “a kind of cross between a bulldog and a chihuahua”.

    Who’s doing what to whom!?

  9. inkface

    The unspeakable rose garden love-in this afternoon between the two men collectively known, I’m told, as Davick or Cleggeron, made me vomit into a packet of maltesers. What a bloody waste of good chocolate.

  10. Airhead's back

    Well i think they look like Ant and Decs older brothers, do you think Cam will always have to stand on the left side and Clegg on the right?

    • Surely Cameron has to stay on the right, and Clegg on the left? Although, from their point of view (politically and physically) I suppose Nick IS on the left of Dave… It’s all too complicated.

  11. Qwerty

    Good call on the Ant and Dec lookie-likey business. Maybe they can host ‘I’m a politician in a coalition – get me out of here.’

    ‘Day 3 in the cabinet, and Lady Warsi is becoming sick of being the token non-White person.’

    • arialbold

      I think the bush tucker trial for the Lib Dems has already involved swallowing unpleasant immigration policies mixed with anti-European venom