Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Leaders’ Debate: And The Winner Is … None Of The Above

So there’s much apparent (faux?) surprise that Nick Thingy did well at the Leaders’ Debate last night. Cameron had the highest expectations to live up to – and so even last night’s competent performance meant that his “score” would never be astounding. Brown had the lowest expectations and his typically clunky, uncomfortable, box ticking progress through the debate didn’t disappoint.

Clegg’s result personalises the usual bounce that the Lib Dems always get at the General Election, when they get increased public exposure. Few people vote for the Lib Dems, rather they vote against the incumbent – in effect, the Lib Dems act as a proxy for the phantom “none of the above” box. Add to that the fact that last night would have been the first time that many voters would even have seen or realised who Nick Clegg actually was, and the scores from the instant polling are hardly surprising.

Yet the Lib Dems have a problem. With the inevitable increase in chatter about a hung parliament, their policies will come under scrutiny. I have long held the view that the best way to scare people off voting Lib Dem isn’t just the “vote Lib Dem get Labour” mantra, but simply putting the Lib Dem manifesto through every voters’ door. That’ll soon do the trick, especially if there is a feeling – real or imagined – that the manifesto will include the red lines for their participation in a Lib/Lab coalition; and a Lib/Lab tie-up is the only sort which their left-of-Labour activist base will accept and, for that matter, many in the Labour party (didn’t the phrase “I agree with Nick” come more often from Brown’s lips than Cameron’s?).


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