(No) time to grow up
David Cameron, Britain's new (Conservative) prime minister, and Nick Clegg, Britain's new (Liberal Democrat) deputy prime minister, are understandably rather pleased with themselves.
Bitter rivals until election day (May 6), the two have quickly formed Britain's first peacetime coalition since the 1930s. As a result, the newlyweds are promising us new politics, better politics, grown-up politics and even chocolate-tasting politics.
OK, I made that last one up. But an innocent observer from continental Europe could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about, just because two parties that fought each other at an election are now in government together.
Well, let me tell those naive Europeans something: you might be used to being grown up and cooperative, but that is not the way we Brits do politics. We are adversarial. The parties line up opposite each other in our parliament and throw facts and figures, abuse and custard pies at each other.
Again, I exaggerate. But custard is an appropriate image here, because the new coalition is likely to run into problems — or "go to custard" — faster than David and Nick can sing, "We met up on a Tuesday and our hearts stood still: Lib-Lib-Con-Con-Con, Lib-Lib-Con-Con".
My guess is that once the Labour Party has recovered from its wounded pride of losing power after 13 years, it will be mightily relieved to be out of office for the foreseeable future.
Britain's budget deficit of more than £160 billion, or nearly 12 per cent of GDP, means that the new coalition will have to push through savage spending cuts and tax increases, including a significant increase in value-added tax. Cameron and Clegg's love affair is unlikely to withstand such austerity.
Labour would have to had to do the same, but now it can sit back and blame David and Nick for the pain that the British people will inevitably face in the coming years.
David and Nick will, of course, throw custard pies back across the House of Commons and blame Labour for the monster deficit and the highest unemployment rate since 1994.
What was that again about grown-up politics?