Monday, September 13

Mister Deputy Prime Minister

Nick Clegg, the British Deputy PM, strolls the sidelines Sunday as his son's team plays KPR's under-nines. Wearing casual clothes, I would not have noticed Clegg if someone had not pointed him out. Yet there he is, the equivalent of the US Vice President, and nobody seems bothered or even to care. Imagine Joe Biden at a soccer match in the suburbs somewhere - it would be hell. Clegg pushes one child in a pram and roots for his son, the goalie. His wife Miriam González Durántez is by his side completing a picture of family harmony. I do not see the secret service but, most likely, that is the point (photo from the web).

Since you asked:

The Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a senior member of the British Cabinet. The office of the Deputy Prime Minister is not a permanent position, existing only at the discretion of the Prime Minister, who may appoint to other offices - such as First Secretary of State - to give seniority to a particular Cabinet Minister.

Unlike analogous offices in some other nations, including the United States Vice Presidency, a British deputy prime minister possesses no special powers as such, though s/he will always have particular responsibilities in government. He or she does not assume the duties and powers of the Prime Minister in the latter's absence or illness, such as the powers to seek a dissolution of parliament, appoint peers or brief the sovereign. He does not automatically succeed the Prime Minister, should the latter be incapacitated or resign from the leadership of his or her political party. In practice, however, the designation of someone to the role of Deputy Prime Minister may provide additional practical status within cabinet, enabling the exercise of de facto, if not de jure, power.

In a coalition government, such as the current one between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the appointment of the leader of the smaller party (in the current case, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats) as Deputy Prime Minister is done to give that person more authority within the cabinet to enforce the coalition's agreed upon agenda. The Deputy Prime Minister usually deputises for the Prime Minister at official functions, such as Prime Minister's Questions. (Wiki).

For the record: Nick's son (Eitan notes) gets clobbered 12-nil.