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‘Gay enough’ to lead?
In times of crisis, UK has had the good fortune of being rescued by charismatic leaders like Churchill, Thatcher and Blair; From the current crop, is Nicholas William Peter Clegg the right man?

The Queen of England is still the official head of state of 16 former British colonies in all, including Australia, New Zealand and Canada, a fact that serves to remind the world about the great power that Britain wielded in the early 20th century. However, the ‘once great’ Britain is losing the influence and prestige it enjoyed, and the legacy it inherited is fast slipping out of its hands. Economists fear that the company will never return to the pre-recession normality and the downturn could last at least till 2015.

The economic decline (by 4.8%) was the fastest in 88 years. Consumer confidence is at miserable lows and British consumer confidence fell from 82 to 71 in March, according to the Nationwide Building Society, indicating that hope is also in short supply. The trends only enhance the undeniable criticality of the elections next month. One of the biggest challenges before the country is its patchy record with respect to creating world class leaders. Now, as UK is scheduled to undergo parliamentary elections, the persistent question is, are things expected to change?

The choice is between Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative Party leader David Cameron. Clegg is a hope for many when he is judged by his ideas, policies and ideologies. He is believed to be straightforward and a ‘just gay enough’ version (as per Toby Young of The Telegraph) of David Cameroon. Young’s contention is that the poise, sophistication and metrosexual mannerisms that Clegg possesses in abundance gives him an advantage over Cameroon. And that he could just be the next link in UK’s chequered legacy of great leaders.

The history of UK has been a witness to accounts of great leaders – albeit in sinusoidal waves – who had a strong influence on the course of nation-building and in world history. Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill not only inspired the Brits with his speeches but also helped alter the course of world history, especially during WW II. Almost two-and-a-half decades later, Margaret Thatcher, the ‘Iron Lady’, came forward, reshaped UK’s foreign policy and revamped its shattered economy – from 1980 to 1990, the economy had a 23.3% increase in GDP in real terms.
After her, there was disappointment as John Major failed thoroughly in preserving the Conservative legacy and protecting UK from the currency crisis known as ‘Black Wednesday.’ Labour’s Tony Blair was the next in the league of greats, who endeavoured to enhance UK’s positive influence over international politics. While his contributions helped to end the 30 years long conflict of Northern Ireland, his support to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan was thoroughly criticized.

Then the fate of Britain passed over to Gordon Brown. The Labour party not only lost its popularity, but also lost many local elections faster than expected. A poll published in Sunday Times confirms now that Brown’s Labour Party has the support of only 28% of UK’s electorate compared to 44% for Conservatives. Journalist & columnist Benedict Brogan labels Brown “the worst leader since the Heptarchy.”

To that effect, that Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats won the recent election debate with an average of 33% support against 30% for Cameroon and Brown doesn’t even show the tip of how UK is fanatically embracing this radical with a uniquely polarised character. Born in Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire in 1967, with a half-Russian father, Nick holds some unenviable records! He was punished with community service with his friends for burning a collection of cacti belonging to a professor when he was just 16. The quite married Nick (to Miriam Gonzalez Durantez) doesn’t regret disclosing to the media that he has slept with not more than 30 women, a claim even Tiger would find hard to match. In a live BBC interview, when asked whether he believes in God, Nick replied, “No!” While all this would have been enough to sink a hydrogen filled blimp, Nick’s flight is electrifying. And the reason is not hard to find.

Nick – brilliantly similar to Barack Obama – is a master of speech construction and delivery. Nick was awarded the Financial Times David Thomas Prize for his writing in remembrance of an FT journalist killed in Kuwait. Add this to the fact that Nick is multilingual fluent in English, Dutch, French, German, and Spanish, and you have a celebrity playing to the gallery and winning steam-rolling popularity. Will he succeed in the final elections? For that, Nick would have to seriously work up his election agenda much better than what he’s doing right now, because a country like UK, which has 99% literacy levels, even while celebrating a celebrity during live debates, would ravage him during the hustings if sense does not mix with flamboyance. But one suspects this great great grandson of a Russian Tsarist aristocrat knows that fully well!

By:- Akram Hoque

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