Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Britain learns new tricks with young dogs!

So Britain now has 43 year old David Cameron as the youngest prime minister for nearly 200 years (Robert Jenkinson was just a year younger when he became prime minister in 1812). You have to go back to William Pitt the younger in 1783 to find the unusual record age of 24 for a prime minister of Britain. And Cameron's deputy PM Nick Clegg of the Liberals is also a mere 43 years old. Fresh faced Eton-type English boys!

A numbers of things amused me about the election when compared to Irish elections over the last few decades.

* The British are so unused to hung parliaments and the concept of coalition. It was funny to see the visible effrontery of some Conservative MPs (notably William Hague) when the Liberals decided to also hold talks with Labour - having initially talked only to the Conservatives!! How dare they do that!! We in Ireland are so used to inter-party horse-trading after elections that such practise wouldn't raise an eyebrow.

* The lack of proportional representation (PR) in Britain brought the results out very quickly - with none of the multiple count results excitement we are used to. It's interesting that our little nation has a much more sophisticated way of giving voters a choice and that the mighty Britain still uses a simple first-past-the-post system. Indeed-it looks like the new boy-leaders are going to look at electoral reform and maybe PR for the future.

* I now feel really old at 55 - youngsters aged in their 40s are Government leaders the UK, USA and Ireland!! Well in truth our Brian Cowen just turned 50 this year but he became prime minister at 48.