Martin Bright

Confusion reigns | 24 October 2010

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A hoary old foreign correspondent once advised me on how to report on a new country when parachuted in during a crisis. I was about to be sent to Russia to cover the rouble collapse, when it looked like the whole country was about to implode. I was more than a little nervous.

"When you write your first piece you will be completely disoriented, so just write that confusion reigns. No one will know any better," he said.

It feels a bit like that with UK politics at the moment. What are we to make of the latest polls that show the majority of the population backing the Coalition's cuts and yet Labour suddenly taking a lead in the polls? Tony Blair's sister-in-law converts to Islam, while the Islamists get their man into the Tower Hamlets mayoralty with the blessing of Ken Livingstone. The deputy prime minister chooses Bowie and Radiohead on Desert Island Discs to mark that the Adrian Mole generation has finally arrived. The last of the baby-boomers are the last to pull up the ladder behind them, but somehow we find the two public schoolboys at the head of the government rather plausible.

Andrew Rawnsley is beginning to make sense of things. Today's column is admirably clear. He is right that Cameron-Clegg are more Blair than Thatcher and no one will buy the Labour Party's attempts to represent them as ideological crazies. But it still feels like confusion reigns and we are all foreign correspondents struggling get a fix on the new landscape.