I’m sitting down to watch the inaugural leader’s debate as I write these first few words, the dog finally admitting defeat and returning to his basket, a glass of milk and whiskey on the table.
I have to say that I have high hopes for Nick Clegg during the opening exchanges of this debate. It does all seem rather staid and a little starchy to be honest, however, I feel that it is fair to say that my impressions are as follows based on the opening few minutes;
• Gordon Brown is still approaching both audience and fellow political leaders as if he is at the despatch box during PMQs. He still, worryingly, looks like a pale android, and if I were a Doctor, I would be worrying about the state of his circulatory system.
• David Cameron is trying extremely hard to say all the things that he believes the electorate wish to hear, but I still cannot escape the feeling that he is reading every word of every answer from a pre prepared cue card. I must admit that I have also just experienced the frighteningly plausible mental image of David Cameron being wheeled back into the store cupboard of Madame Tussaud’s come the end of this debate.
• Hold the phone citizens! Nick Clegg is a flower that is starting to bloom! I am finding this deliciously ironic that he is the party leader that has invested the least amount of resources and time in preparations for this debate, yet he is coming across as the easiest to believe, the most comfortable in front of the camera, and the most assured under cross examination. He is talking alot of sense, and talking it well (Grammar Police stand down please)
• I am feeling quite a pronounced sense of antipathy all the way over here on my sofa. This is all too polite. Please excuse me for a moment whilst I try and suppress my bubbling indifference.
• Nick Clegg is managing to get lots of local references in his answers to his constituency in Sheffield. The Liberal Democrats are an extremely locally focussed party. Well Done Nick!
• Gordon Brown talking about successful police forces taking over failing ones. Bearing in mind that there is an unofficial recruitment freeze within the public sector, including the Police service, how on earth are the successful forces going to adequately apportion manpower to run the failing ones? Complete tosh and twaddle!
• David Cameron talked about visit to police station in Hull. Wonder why he isn’t talking about any police stations he has visited in Oxfordshire, or any other location that is more ‘well heeled’? A vacuous attempt at appealing to the working class vote perhaps? A Play and a miss for Cameron methinks..
• Nick Clegg drawing references from the other two party manifestos..I am glad to see that Nick is showing some teeth here. Now and again the Lib Dems need to show some mettle, as well as good ideas..more of the same please..
• Brown returning to the same old Punch and Judy PMQ approach. Cameron resorting to type and attempting to shelter under the banner of attacking the Labour Party economic policies that he and his Shadow Chancellor supported..excuse me whilst I yawn..
• And so on to expenses! Well done Nick Clegg on pointing out that the Liberal Democrat MPs were by and large clean following the expenses scandal
• I am rather unsettled by the not too subtle love bombing that Gordon Brown is directing at Nick Clegg..anymore and this broadcast will have to be age certificated!
• Why is it that David Cameron always brings the argument back to cutting the cost of what is being discussed?? If he were talking about the costs of getting on the housing ladder I would be more receptive, but when he talks about this in the context of cleaning up politics as if it were some great panacea I have to say to him that he is well and truly missing the point.
• David Cameron trying to spread the muck and deflect from ‘Cashcroft’ and Gordon Brown hovering and smirking like a patronising teacher.
• Noteworthy that David Cameron wants a ‘predominantly’ elected second chamber. If the Tories have changed and are no longer elitist, why can we not have a completely elected House Of Lords?
• Cameron lands a big blow on Brown. DC makes a good point when he pins down GB on why it is that he only became interested in political reform weeks before this election. It is fair to say that Labour have had 13 years, after all!
• Nick Clegg making the good European comparisons on education. Good strategy, as he is showing that where strategies have been adopted that Liberal Democrats support, real success has been achieved
• All the leaders are agreed that we need more discipline in schools. Nick Clegg mentioned the Liberal Democrat plans for smaller class sizes. Personally I wouldn’t be a teacher if you gave me a golden pig as a golden hello!
• David Cameron banging on about the Tory smoke screen that is the so-called ‘job tax’ (National Insurance Contributions) YAWN!!
• Gordon Brown is obsessed with successful groups taking over failing groups..Is he a messenger from the Borg???? He seems awfully preoccupied with assimilation!
• David Cameron (again) going on about how the roof will fall in if National Insurance rate raises. The 100 businessmen he has recruited have all (allegedly) bought ad space in the Conservative in house magazine.
• Nick Clegg claiming the scrapping of trident will save £100 BILLION!! Why are doing this?? Common sense please!!!
• As it stands, the Liberal Democrats are the only political party who have a ‘menu with prices’ with regard to the inevitable post election cuts.
• Gordon Brown making shrewd economic point regarding the fact that the UK has a lower level of unemployment than the US. Trying to cast himself as the steady hand on the tiller.
• Nick Clegg talking about open and honest in politics. The Liberal Democrat idea of instigating a Council of Financial Unity is certainly a very interesting one. We need to do something differently!
• David Cameron claiming that Lib Dem proposal to abolish income tax for all earnings below £10,000 as a £17bn tax break. Personally I would see it as a demonstration of fair and radical tax reform that the country needs.
• The whole debate is a little stop start due to Alistair Stewart. He is putting up a strong show though.
• Noticeable how David Cameron is completely ignoring what the other leaders are saying in reply to him.
• All three leaders are quite rightly showing gratitude and deference to our brave servicemen and servicewomen. They do a fantastic job, and we are all in their debt.
• I’m liking the Liberal Democrat proposal to bring harmony to the pay comparison between junior soldiers, sailors and airmen and comparable emergency service personnel. Also showing the idiocy of MOD beaurocrats in ignoring the engineering expertise that we have right here in our own country. A play and a hit for Nick Clegg!
• Lib Dem and Conservative leader agreeing on calling for a defence review. Nick Clegg pinning down David Cameron on the issue of trident. Cameron scaremongering with strange talk of losing nuclear deterrent. Cue much alarmist talk about Iran.
• Nick Clegg making good point in saying that the argument regarding trident is one of priorities.
• David Cameron making very valid point regarding lack of helicopters in Afghanistan. Gordon Brown stuttering in reply. Play and a hit for Cameron.
• Nick Clegg making great point about the NHS employing 5000 more managers in the past year. He is right to say that the priorities are all wrong when A & E departments and hospitals are threatened with closure.
• David Cameron makes heartfelt point regarding the treatment his late son received. Nursing & Medical staff in the NHS are indeed an excellent breed.
• Cameron bringing the debate back to the Tory confidence trick that is the campaign against NIC.
• Gordon Brown failing to connect through the camera. He is talking about the cancer treatment guarantee, which would be great if ever brought to practice, but he is looking like the pale android again.
• Cameron reeling out dodgy statistics about Bulgarian cancer rates. I’ll reserve my judgement on that one!
• I concede to the reader that I have a party political interest in this debate, however I do believe that Nick Clegg is providing a breath of fresh air as I type. Honesty is truly a refreshing approach from a political leader!
• Gordon Brown is using his supposed agreement with Nick Clegg as a life raft. Swim Gordon, Swim!
• Nice to see a fellow Train Driver putting a question to the leaders!
• David Cameron makes nice sounds with no answer again, taking a cheap swipe at Gordon Brown, yet forgetting again to mention that he and his party supported the very economic measures that he is now castigating Brown for!
• Nick Clegg is getting alot of positive press, I believe for his emphasis on honesty and consensus in politics. In the area of elderly care we do need cross party co-operation on this issue. We need to respect our elders and treasure them. David Cameron is making some good points on this also.
• Gordon brown is reverting once again to PMQ mode. I am losing the will to live whenever he speaks. I know that he is a decent and honest man, but he has the talent to switch the political passion within this political animal off! Lord knows what effect he has on the public at large!
• Nick Clegg proposing a week per year respite care for long term carers. A fine and noble proposal to end the debate on.
• Clegg makes a compelling appeal in his closing statement. Give real change a chance.
• Gordon Brown strikes for the populist tone by mentioning X factor. Cleverly using the statement to clarify Labour policy on cuts and NIC, honing in on Cameron’s jobs tax claim and misinformation. A good closing statement overall.
• David Cameron is trying to let sunshine win the day again. Trying to paint the Tory party as the victim within the political process is a bit rich, even for someone who is more than a bit, err..rich!
Overall, I believe that Nick Clegg came out he victor in this debate. I believe that he managed to portray a better way of sorting out the problems that face the country. I believe that Gordon Brown was tired and repetitive, and suffering from the ‘brake fade’ of holding office. David Cameron on the other hand failed to take advantage of the opportunity to instil dominance in the electoral campaign, and instead came across as far too polished and false, purveying a slightly tinted version of the same old politic that has outraged the electorate so much.
This has been vindicated by the exit polling from the debate, where ratings were recorded as Gordon Brown gaining between 17 and 32%, Cameron on between 22 and 29% and Clegg on between 37 and 61%.
I think that this shows that when each party is given equal coverage that isn’t distorted by the bankrolling of the big businessmen and the trade unions, the policies and philosophies of the Liberal Democrats, under the leadership of Nick Clegg really do present a credible option for where you should place your vote.
I would call upon you all to use that vote to the best interests of your conscience, and the best interest of this great nation, and its future generations..