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In Berlin: on football fever and Cleggmania RIP

Posted on 24 June 2010 | 3:06pm

Breakfast in London, lunch in Berlin, so a chance to read the Fussball-mood now that England and Germany are drawn together in the last 16 of the World Cup.

On yesterday’s outings, you would have to give it to Germany if football was the only judgement. Their win over  Ghana was one of the fastest, most skilful and most entertaining matches so far, with the added spice of two brothers playing on opposing sides. The Milibands have nothing on the non-speaking Prince-Boatengs.

But when a game is as big as this one, other factors, relevant and irrelevant, come into play. England, I can report, is winning on the heatwave front. It is a nice day here, but nothing like as warm as when I left home. England also wins – narrowly it must be said – on the number of flags flying from cars. England wins by a landslide on the nationalist fervour pouring from news-stands, but then German news-stands are always more sober.

So it is only really the football that might be the problem, and surely with the new found mood that had even Fabio Capello smiling and chortling, they ought to be able to fix that by Sunday. That being said, England fans might have cause for concern at the sight of their players celebrating so wildly the winning of a match which Clive Tyldesley had suggested in commentary was the international equivalent of Premier League v League Two.

Having just had a brief run, there is one factor I must concede unequivocally to the Germans. Clean streets. I know this is an obsession of mine, and has no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of the match, but it is very noticeable. This is what a Tory Mayor and a Tory-Lib government does for us, eh?

I did not see the whole of the Cameron-Clegg ‘Face the audience’ programme on the Beeb last night, but I am assuming they edited in the best bits for the packages I saw on the news … in which case the question is bound to be asked … what is Nick Clegg for?

Cameron seemed to be doing all the talking, and when Clegg tried to get a word in, his boss shut him up and answered for him. All a bit embarrassing, and the body language not as good as when they first got into bed together. Nick had the look of a man who wished he had not had that last drink and ended up doing something he regretted. And what was the red tie all about? Too late, Nick. Stick to gold. It suits you.

It is not just Cameron who ignores Clegg though. I was in the BMI lounge when the deputy PM came onto breakfast telly this morning. I know airport lounges are not the liveliest of places, but of 24 people in the room, I reckon one bothered to look up and listen. Moi.

Out on my run, I went by Madame Tussauds, which had pictures of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy outside. I popped in to ask if they had any plans to get waxworks of the new coalition leaders in Britain, Herr Cameron und the multilingual Herr Clegg.

Sometimes it can be really good fun being stared at as though you’re stark staring bonkers. Cleggmania ist Geschichte, as we say in these parts.

  • JGR

    Not to nit-pick or anything but it wasn’t a draw, it was 1-0 Germany.

  • Cuse

    What is Clegg for? What answer do you want? The serious one or the sarcastic one? The one Clegg would give or the one Clamberon would give? Actually, all answers are the same.

    He’s there to make Clamberon and his rabid Tory Party appear more palatable by being a nodding everyman dog. In return he gets a Country pile, a Ministerial Mondeo and no doubt a safe Tory seat when he drags the Lib Dems below obscurity.

    The funniest thing is that he’s gone from being a National Star due to the TV debates into being a National joke almost overnight.

  • Marc Mullen

    Cannot believe you didn’t get the word schadenfreude into that last blog

  • Ned Clarke

    Your little patch of Camden, Notting Hill or Hampstead wherever the Campbell’s lay their heads (not Belgravia yet but shortly I’m sure) may be clean but I pay the same Council Tax as a similar band in Chelsea and, under Labour, the street were filthy, litter pick-up was sporadic and careless. We are now blessed with not only a Tory MP but also a Tory Council – clean streets regular and careful waste removal and a clean park. Amazing what just a few weeks or real people rather than spinners can do.

  • craig thomas

    Quick one before today’s 3 o’clock kick off.

    Tyldesley’s comment you quoted only display his own lack of (football) brains. The guy’s one of the most irritating muppets on the scene (man). Funny how the ‘lesser’ teams are, before the game, posited as potentially tricky opposition, then become Barnet in disguise when England utterly dominate them. For me, Slovenia were not ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ as quoted yesterday post-match: England were just damned good and made an ‘Ipswich’ look like Forest Green Rovers with a Premier League keeper.

    I notice too that an England game v. the USA where we dominated – certainly almost the entire second half – and had 18 shots (against the USA’s 12) has become a game where they/we were ‘bad,’ ‘terrible,’ ‘slow,’ ‘poor,’ etc. We just failed to create clear-cut chances from many promising attacks. We’ve long been mired among hacks and ex-pro punditry in the mucky rut of analysing the game backwards from the result instead of actually analysing the play.

    Not so quick. 15.07.

  • Patrick James

    I think that David Cameron is very good at convincing people on a one to one basis. I can’t stand him on the radio or TV, in fact he makes me want to vomit! But, he must be good when he is in person. I write this because so many people have been very convinced by him. I think of people like Iain Dale, or members of his cabinet, or that small group of people that are close to him.

    I think that Nick Clegg was entranced by this Cameron spell long before the general election. Clegg’s own politics, his Orange Book liberalism are very similar to Cameron’s anti-welfare-ism, privatising everything etc.

    However I also think that the people who get seduced by Cameron invariably come to regret it. Cameron is an opportunist, a man who wanted to be Prime Minister as a life goal, not through any political conviction. I suspect Cameron’s primary skill in his rise has been the way he convinces those he personally meets. The problem is that he leaves them for dust when it suits him. Look at Lord Ashcroft today, once a buddy of Cameron’s now writing a book about him which is believed to be full of attacks on him.

    I think Clegg and Cameron will end the same way. Maybe Clegg is now beginning to realise that Cameron is not what he seemed to be, I don’t know, but soon enough Clegg will come to understand that Cameron will politically destroy him when the time is right for Cameron to do so.

  • David Kingston

    I hear that Dave and Nick are asking public sector workers for suggestions for cuts. Has any government ever run out of ideas so quickly?

  • Ris

    I don’t have a problem with the use of the word ‘bonkers’..Not all all. Except, Alistair, when you reprimanded the media less that four weeks ago on Twitter for referring to someone as a ‘nutter’. Tut

  • Graham Jones

    The Rainbow coalition has delivered us a lot of laughs and no substance. It’s all been sticky-back plastic and double-sided cellotape holding together their Tracy Island in Downing Street. They have been the most hapless double-act seen on TV since Zippy and George; and with Bungle as London Mayor it just gets better.
    Why can’t they just be honest? – They don’t know how to do the job.
    They really had a cheek having a go at GB. At least Gordon was in control of the country, and had guided us through the worst economic storm for 80 years. This lot, are just about to make it worse, when there own independent report says that the Labour plan was credible and workable.
    The big choice, would have been to eat humble pie and stay with the Labour plan, cutting later when growth is re-established in the private sector. But Cameron and his cronies, can’t stand the idea that they called it wrong – and now we are all about to suffer.

  • Janete

    What is Clegg for? Good question. I was intrigued by his success during the election campaign and made every effort to listen to all his interviews carefully. It struck me then, that he had a very limited pitch, well rehearsed admittedly, but no real depth to any of his arguments. In the face to face session last night, and in Deputy PMQs, this became even more obvious. He seems unable to engage with questions put to him and respond in a way that shows any real understanding. He just waffles in general terms about a loosely connected topic (from his well rehearsed range) ensuring he places strong emphasis here and there to make it sound like he is saying something worth listening to.

    As you say, Alastair, Cameron frequently stopped him speaking yesterday but he did manage a couple of interventions. In answer to a specific question about how they would stop public sector capital project cuts impacting on small businesses and affecting jobs, he said:

    ‘ Also can I just … I mean, you and I come from Sheffield. Sheffield is a place where lots of people work in the public sector, I don’t think it’s as simple as saying private sector down, public sector up or public sector down, private sector up. It’s to make sure everything is as affordable as it is, and so that we make savings so that people can stay in work and David’s absolutely right. If we don’t take these decisions let’s remember what the consequence is, interests rates go up and that’s the surest way we get a double dip recession.’

    I’m not at all surprised he isn’t allowed to say much; he hasn’t got much to say.

  • Alan Quinn

    What does Nick Clegg stand for?…..
    Cameron, every time he walks in the room.

  • Jacquie R

    Dear Dave and Nick

    Thanks ever so much for your sympathetic letter asking me to contribute to the Spending Challenge. Very thoughtful of you to say how awfully much you value me and my contribution as a public sector worker and how much you want my ideas about where to make savings in no more than 500 words. It would be such an honour for them to be considered by the Treasury Spending Challenge Champions Team.

    And how jolly clever of you to say that my emailed submission can be anonymous, so that I can say whatever I like, even if I’m not a public sector worker.

    Here is my first idea to save money. Abolish this third-form PR exercise and stop patronising public sector workers.

  • sarah

    Dear Jackie
    How could you be so cynical?
    Of course it will be fair and we will be listened to because it is part of our friend Dave’s “big conversation”. They will put all of our replies into a great big top hat (I bet George has a few) and pull out the first 50 answers live on SKY News. Because they want it to be fair and for us to be involved, and you can’t get more fair than random or more involved than SKY News. The live interviews with the winners and (sadly) the losers will be thrilling. Just imagine the suspense of finding out if you get to keep your job and mortgage and stuff live on SKY?! WOW!!The losers will be ok about it because it will be fair, and they will certainly have been involved. And the best bit is they will get interviewed by Adam Boulton which will be just wonderful.

    Although Dave and Nick had better hope that my suggestion does not get picked because it involves that hard-working-public-sector-worker known as the Queen (and a removal van). Now that would be worth watching…..

  • Graham Jones

    Vince Cable can barely stomach the truth that Ed Balls is speaking on question time. His body language is revealing. Every word of the party line he utters, is clearly a struggle. He is incredibly shaky as he speaks. I used to think he would be first to jump ship, but I believe he has got himself so far in, that he thinks he would look lame if he did now.
    Vince Cable is also hoping to play the long game,where he can be stronger on progressive policies at a later date. The problem is, that he will be ridiculed by a right-wing press, and thrown to the lions by his tory partners.
    Clegg will let him sink, and replace him with another of his lackies. Probably a return for Laws would be his favourite outcome – all tories together.

  • Daniel Flower

    Alastair, though a big fan of your latest diaries, I am afraid to report that the spine of this book melts in the Las Vegas summer heat, leading to all the pages falling out. Please correct this in future editions as having to dry them out has been a pain!

    Thanks, Dan

  • Phil Bourne

    @ Sarah and Jackie R

    I get the impression that we’re now starting to get rather giddy about this?… but very amusing 🙂 I loved the thought of using Sky and Adam Boulton to announce the winners!!

    However, on a more serious (if not more cynical) point I suspect (and fear) that this exercise will be a huge PR stunt. The responses (even Alastairs) will be sifted through and edited to provide a patchwork of support for whatever this governement wants to say or do – and I suspect they will gain lots of evidence and ‘support’ from people in the public sector to support their ‘cunning plan’… in a similar vein to the £104k housing benefit they will not give a second thought about being economical with the truth.

  • G Jones

    Cable was clearly uncomfortable spouting the ConDem line but then Balls was spot on he was trying to defend the indefensable. I note that the coalition is very keen to get the lib dems to take the flak, but senior Tory’s are a bit shy about apearing on Question Time or indeed Newsnight.

    The thing is they didn’t need to be as harsh as they are going to be, labours proposals would have been austere enough to satisfy the most heartless banker. No, they are causing all this pain not because they have to but because they want to.