‘Thrilling finale to big debate’ warbled The Times this morning. Thrilling?
But anyway, here’s some evidence that backs us, not the media: the viewing figures between the first and second debates more than halved – from 9.9 down to 4.4 million folks variously yawning, groaning and not so much nodding as nodding off. I made it to the end of this one, but the event was awesome in its ability to make one wish there was something better on. Only a strong sense of journalistic duty kept me from watching the third repeat of the Angolan snail Derby over on UKdavegold.com.
The Tory press hailed Cameron as the victor, and the opinion polls seemed to say the same thing at first glance. Well, he didn’t do it for me. When challenged, as the camera cut away to him, the Conservative leader looked every inch the schoolboy having trouble with his algebra. What he didn’t look like was a Prime Minister – whereas sadly, Nick Clegg did.
I say ‘sadly’ because neither he nor Cable have any credibility at all in Whitehall….and especially not at the Treasury. Nevertheless, Clegg remained what he’s been from the start: plausible, and different. And if you look at how floating voters responded, he won hands down. Last in the post-debate beauty contest perhaps – but very effective at what he was trying to do. Cameron has, I’m afraid, spent his whole time preaching to the converted.
As for Brown, the first post-Duffed-up opinion polls show no backlash against Labour – probably suggesting two things: they knew all that about Brown anyway; and the Party is now down to those supporters who would vote for Gaddafi if he was Leader. Having until now looked merely self-serving, Gordon is finally looking self-destructive. And ill.
The TV debates have, said The Times ‘profoundly changed electoral politics forever’. Well, a Newscorp paper would say that (the whole thing was Sky’s idea in the first place) but I would take issue with the suggestion that this has been profound, and the implication that it may have been a force for good. I think it has paved the way for Britain’s Berlusconi – wherever he might be at the moment.
One extremely superficial man representing a confusing rag-tag rainbow of a Party has emerged as having serious credentials for the top job. Thus would be controlling a tricky coalition at a pivotal time in our history. His folksy ‘break up this squabble between the other two children’ style and childish ‘How much? Yes or No?’ aggression belie the fact that he is himself evasive, dissembling and full of himself. He is also a big-State EU trougher, and probably the very last thing Britain needs right now. But then, being the last thing we need is the one measure upon which the three debaters have run a dead-heat – inseparable even by a photo-finish.