Four days in London after the recent election of David Cameron, the Conservative, and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat, and every taxi driver in London was eager to talk about it.
What was astonishing was not only that they knew every nook and cranny of the city (taxi drivers train for four years before they take a rigorous exam) but they knew every detail of the political landscape.
“What did you think of Gordon Brown?”, the recently defeated Labor Prime Minister, was my most frequent question. They were all in agreement. One driver put it this way: “He’s intelligent, thoughtful, and a total disaster.”
Another was bit more subtle. “He’s a radio man.” “What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“Never should have gotten in front of a TV,” he exclaimed. “We’re getting too much like the Americans,” he complained.
There was little doubt that the televised debates had influenced the election outcome. “No one knew who Clegg was before.”
As for the coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, several were pleased with the idea of having two very different parties working together. It’s almost as dramatic as the coalition between Democrats and Republicans in the US Clinton got in bed together. I give it 18 months.
What do you think of Obama?” I ventured.
“We like him over here. Bush alienated the American people all over the world. Obama has reversed that.”
Naturally, I agreed.
Madeleine M. Kunin is the former Governor of Vermont and was the state’s first woman governor. She served as Ambassador to Switzerland for President Clinton, and was on the three-person panel that chose Al Gore to be Clinton’s VP. She is the author of Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead from Chelsea Green Publishing.
Cross-posted on the Huffington Post.