Friday, April 16, 2010


Dave Must be Sick as Clegg Comes out Top

Well, how was it for you? Like most viewers-well, 40% according to the Times Poll- I thought Cameron would cream it, but he did not. I thought Clegg would be shrill and lacking substance- but he was far from this. I thought Gordon would be like a sullen, immobile bull- and he was to some extent- but he performed better by far than in PMQs. Perhaps that was the secret: this was a different context where Brown's policy wonkism and serious mien fitted in. Cameron found he couldn't swoop in and attack him with sarcasm, sneering and bullying, backed up by a complicit baying bunch of Tory MPs.

In fact, Cameron was a bit at sea. He couldn't quite fit in. As a result he was wholly unable to expand upon his Big Society theme- you know, about including everyone in the government of ther country. I don't think he mentioned it more than once, which suggests it is as I suspected, a ploy to seduce the voters rather than anything he truly believes in. I'm fairly sure Tory strategists today will be rueful about agreeing to the debate in the first place. As the front runner he had the most to lose but his unimaginative advisers failed to realise this would be in no way like PMQs where Dave has weekly skewered Gordon like a matador.

At first I thought Nick Clegg was too lightweight but he adapted rapidly and showed no nerves- a sign he has made the upward shift into the top league. I even thought Vince Cable could not have done any better which is something I never thought I'd think. After last night Dave and company will find the 23 Lib-Dem marginals they need to win to accumulate the seats they need to win, might well have become a degree or so less marginal.

What about the event as a whole? I was favourably impressed overall. It was a bit odd to have no applause and no heckling from the audience- this was not Question Time either- and it was notable that the audience only laughed- nervously and inhibitedly- a couple of times(Vince would certainly have improved the laughgter count). But with 10+ odd million watching, this had to be something special and I do hope it has injected some life into this lack lustre campaign. Though I doubt if the top Conservatives will be thinking along smilar lines just at present. I can't wait to see what effect the debate has had on the already up and down polls.

Agree with you about Clegg, and about the danger now posed to the Tories from the Liberals, who hold a number of their target seats.

I thought Brown was much more negative than you have given him 'credit' for, and thus rather off-putting. His 'jokes' were also too manifestly scripted. I thought he cam across poorly.

As for DC - oh dear. Definitely a come-down, and some have suggested he was out-Cameroned by Clegg! I notice Michael Brown on Daily Politics was scathing about Cameron's advisers - possibly justifiably? He's got two more debates to regain the initiative, but one of the lessons from the much-vaunted Nixon-Kennedy splat was that first impressions lingered!
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