The week in review: Too many personalities

Crazy Frog would have fitted into parliament very well this week
Crazy Frog would have fitted into parliament very well this week
Alex Stevenson By

George Galloway. Nigel Farage. Luis Suarez. British politics has been dealing with some larger-than-life characters this week. And it hasn't all been pretty.

We write off our politicians as faceless automatons, but sometimes it doesn't feel like that at all. An outspoken councillor's questionable comments attracted accusations of racism. The Bulgarian and Romanian ambassadors huffed and puffed over immigration fears. And Ukip's Farage raised eyebrows by firmly denying he is "hung like a donkey". The mental scars are unlikely to heal soon.

Then there was George Galloway, who in the strong personalities stakes deserves a whole paragraph to himself. He started the week seeking to win over Ed Miliband, calling him "impressive, physically and intellectually". He ended it by calling Miliband "an unprincipled coward with the backbone of an amoeba" - definitely |osing points for consistency in the process.

The Conservatives have been through a bit of inner turmoil this week. Minister Anna Soubry declared the need to end Tory "tw*ttery" - showing far too much personality, there - but it was David Cameron who took some real steps towards achieving that goal. Not by speaking out against Liverpool's Luis Suarez, whose sudden desire to nibble on the arm of his footballing colleagues got him into a bit of trouble. No - it was his appointment of Boris Johnson's younger brother Jo which was his biggest move this week. Doing so has created a new sibling soap opera for Britain's politicians to enjoy. The move, boosting Downing Street's political operation, didn't seem to go be going down particularly well.

A bigger, ongoing crisis is that of the UK economy. The default on GDP has been the same for a long time: that peril is just around the corner. This is sensible, as peril has been present around virtually every corner the economy has turned in recent years. So this week the merest sniff of bad news was enough to leave us wailing and gnashing our teeth. Terrible borrowing figures provided the excuse this time round. George Osborne deserved to be worried: borrowing figures showed his deficit reduction agenda had finally ground to a halt.

How strange, then, that when the growth figures finally arrived for the first three months of the year they were positive. Not that 0.3% is much to shout about.

The NHS was on the minds of everyone this week, as major NHS reforms got through the Lords without much difficulty. This did not stop Miliband making hay about the issue in prime minister's questions, although he preferred to concentrate his fire on the chaos emanating, so the Royal College of Nurses claimed, from accident and emergency.

Another reform everyone ought to have forgotten about by now was the royal charter implementing the Leveson reforms. These were roundly rejected by the dead-tree media, dragging on an already painfully elongated process.

And then there is Abu Qatada. This is the most agonisingly prolonged news story of all those plaguing the British government. Home secretary Theresa May came up with a new way of being unrealistically upbeat this week. Will it really lead to a breaking of the deadlock? We'll have to wait and see.

There was, perhaps, one personality whose stature grew this week. The great Gladstone in the sky knows Nick Clegg has had some bad patches, but this week was not one of them. His firm decision to snuff out the so-called 'snoopers' charter' has boosted his hand with his party and given them a much-needed boost of energy ahead of next week's local elections. Nick Clegg with a spring in his step? Something is definitely out of place...


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