Sunday, April 18, 2010

Don't Listen To Me

When it comes to politics I tend to get things wrong. Nick Clegg? Wrong leader, I said after being love-bombed about Vince on the doorsteps this last year. Twice I had seen the man, once at an ACEVO event, once in person to talk about the third sector. At the ACEVO event he was dull and verbose. One to one, he was likeable, intelligent and I wondered why he couldn't come across like that on telly.

Which is why I for one was surprised by what happened on Thursday. Although I am sure the Lib Dems are in a mini-bubble, it is stunning to see the polls respond to one event as they have. For a few days it has been possible to dream of a mould-breaking election. The reason Clegg succeeded was that he made even Cameron look like business-as-usual. After all his effort this last five years, Cameron will be deflated this weekend. Good politics, Nick.

Being a pessimist, I suspect the polls will level out as quickly as they surged forward for the Lib Dems. Weaknesses on Europe, crime and defence will be played up and the Tories in particular will paint the Lib Dems as flaky. Most won't stick but enough Middle-Englanders will take the bait. And those in Tory-Lab marginals will still, sensible, vote tactically anyway.

But it has been fun and interesting. Clearly there is appetite for something quite different, a clean break, something honest and straight. Clegg is representing that in the way Blair once did and watch how people respond. Cameron, for a while, did this too but it feels like he's been around forever and his lightness of touch appears to have deserted him. A lost Mojo at the last fence.

So, all to play for. This morning in my weigh-the-Tory vote constituency I banged in my garden sign in defiance as much as hope. Our hope is a good second against a popular local Green who defected from the Labour Party last year. Bury St Edmunds has been Tory since 1911 so we know history is not on our side. We have to take the long-view!


Rob Fountain said...

It's strange - I've been thinking over the last week that I watched a different debate to everyone else. My assessment after the event was that Cameron was holding back and it didn't suit him; but he'll get better as the format is better understood and how to manipulate it worked out into a plan.

I also thought Brown did better than expected (or subsequently is credited with). Sure he grinned in inappropriate ways and places, and stumbled over his 'killer lines', but I also thought he portrayed 'statesman' and 'prime ministerial' more the the others - and as the incumbent so he should - but he was always on a hiding to nothing.

Clegg I thought articulated some points well, but it just didn't convince me. It still felt like being offered a bronze medal, rather than a third way.

So I'm shocked by the post-match analysis. My conclusion - arrived at as ever in a more long-winded way than you Craig! - is that we saw it the way we wanted to see it. I've a sense of foreboding about the next month, a sense of inevitability, a sense of a retrograde change coming. Perhaps others do want a real change and are prepared to put their X to it, or more importantly for the future of the Lib Dems are at last prepared to say it out loud. Shame that electoral reform will come too late to give the people what they want.

Rob 'Arris said...

Glad you said that Rob cos i was unimpressed with all 3 to be quite honest. It lacked a certain amount of passion in my view; they came over as stereotypical political androids with scripts indellibly imprinted into their brains; very little risk was taken and none were brave enough to go off the beaten path and really capture my imagination. The amount of times the next one of them repeated the "tag line" the previous one had said but in slightly different words was simply annoying. In summary it didnt sound like debate to me, it was forced, constricted and uncomfortable to watch. I actually felt slightly embarrassed on an international level; people across the World are interested in our politics and PM for some reason, what a disappointment.