Archive for the ‘debates’ Category

I’ve got it wrong before, so I’ll most likely get it wrong again. My impression of this debate is that Brown under pressure was only ever really able to fall back on discredited smears and lies to try to score the odd point. Unfortunately for him, he’s been found out, and his record speaks for itself.

Clegg once more tried to play on the anti-politics trick – it’s tired, but the goodwill for him, that means people aren’t listening closely enough to the monstrous contradictions in his party’s manifesto, and, let’s face it, in his party, will massage any positive view of his hesitant performance. To me, in trying so hard to rise above it all, from time to time he seemed simply to float away.

Cameron, by contrast, was tolerant, statesmanlike, patient and, above all, (and what he wasn’t in the last two) completely coherent. He delivered on the substance, he sounded like a man with a positive hunger to turn this country around, but, above all, he calmly destroyed – destroyed – Gordon Brown.

As many have said, Brown needed to win this debate. Even if the popular, or spun (or both) opinion disagrees with the view that Cameron won by a country mile, what will be beyond debate from now until Election Day (or doomsday, for that matter) is that Brown lost it, and lost it bad.

Either way, that was the decider performance from Cameron that I expected, and got.

Cameron has just delivered on the faith many of us had in him, most of the time 😉 He’s delivered a Conservative government.

Breathe a sigh of relief on May 7th, when the work really starts. I will.

A far better writer than I will ever be, Peter Hoskin, has framed it thus:

…as soon as it came to clarifying Lib Dem policy on an amnesty for illegal immigrants, the wings rapidly fell off the yellow bird of liberty. All of a sudden, Clegg sounded rattled and unpersuasive. From then on in, it was Cameron’s game.

It helped that Cameron had the clearest – and, I suspect, the most popular – line on immigration: “We would cut immigration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.” But, really, the Tory leader’s strongest answer came in a subsequent question on improving opportunities for younger generations. What we got then was what Cameron does best: the sunshine, the positivity, the sincere concern about our nation’s schooling. We even got a neat summary of Tory school reform plans. As Cameron put it, he wants to see “choice, diversity and excellence” in the state sector. It was great to hear the Tories’ most impressive policy agenda talked about in such straightforward, unequivocal terms.

As for Brown … well, he was almost a caricature of himself: grey, relentlessly negative and obsessed with the old “cuts vs investment” dividing line. At the beginning of the debate, I thought some of his attacks had a blunt kind of power to them. But as the show wore on, and as it became clear that this was all he had to offer, he faded more and more out of view. By the end, with his closing pitch about the Tories’ inheritance tax plans and tax credit cuts, it was unwatchably awful. There was little to distinguish this Brown from the one who murmured gloomily in the back of a car yesterday.

I couldn’t have put it better myself. No, I really couldn’t 🙂

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“Vote Conservative on Thursday so we can get to work on Friday.”

Good that.

Clegg’s was white noise and Brown is standing on his record. Big mistake.

Got a feeling this could be Cameron’s night…

Cameron, as far as I’m concerned, is winning this debate hands down.

One other thing, it is unbelievable to me that Dimbleby is plugging programmes mid-debate. Who the hell does he think he is?

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Been too busy for Bigotgate today, more’s the pity. But I’ve had a chance to skim through all the papers now and have been struck by one thing in particular: the schizoid coverage of Brown’s epic fubar by the Guardian. Its snob-Left middle class are smelling their own farts (a la South Park’s ‘smug alert’) like crazy over some touchy feely rentapole called Millionovus Poppinova or something’s, mortally wounded by the OAP’s comments about Eastern Europeans ‘flocking’ into Britain act. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d call a million or so permanent new members of the community, all from the same origin, a pretty hefty ‘flock’, wouldn’t you?

This is ‘grow up, do’ territory, but, relentlessly, this stupid person instead drones on and on and on with this fake victimhood horse manure, possibly designed to deflect us from criticising the true villain of this piece: el Gordo. If not – if it is somehow genuine – then in terms of spectacularly missing the point it’s hard to trump. The point? The point is that Brown simply lowered not just his, but his entire political party’s mask for a moment and revealed in all its stark reality how very, very much the middle class snob-Left (the Toynbee and Harmans of this world, to name but two out of hundreds either in politics or in journalism or both) fear, despise and resent their own core vote. You see this not so much in the article, which is just bluster and drivel, but in the comments below it, which are generally disgusting. If you really can stand it, you can see what I mean here.

On the other hand, though, you have Steve Bell. Artist, a committed Tory basher with plenty of previous and a dyed in the wool lefty, but at least he’s got a sense of humour. He hates hypocrisy even more than he loathes David Cameron:

Ah well, home time. But, oh joy unconfined, another debate to look forward to tonight. I do hope Dave and Nicky tease little Gordy about all this.


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I was surprised to learn from Sky News this morning that the latest general election economics debate, if I heard right, will be between George Osborne, Vince Cable and…er…Peter Mandelson.

Hang on a minute, do they mean Lord Peter “We’re all fighting to get re-elected” Mandelson, Business Secretary (among many other hats)? He’s not Chancellor of the Exchequer as well these days is he? That’s Alistair Darling, isn’t it?
Have I missed something? Has Darling come down with an inexplicable stomach complaint (soon after having tea and crumpets with the Evil One yesterday afternoon, no doubt)?
If I haven’t missed something, however, but there’s no highly suspicious sudden sickness involved (it’d have to be a pretty serious affliction to force you to miss your own debate seven days before the election, wouldn’t it?), then we are all entitled to ask a grave question about this very fishy affair: where the hell is Ali?
I think we should be told.
PS: If someone knows, by the way, why Darling has been elbowed, do let me know in the comments.
I wonder if George knows…
Not entirely my fault because this wasn’t made clear on the news – or I was half asleep – but the three mentioned above are all giving speeches to the Institute of Directors today, not debating, according to Sky.com.
Even so, the question remains: where’s Darling!
Or, looking at it another way, why not send Clarke into bat against Mandelson instead of Osborne whose eyes, let’s face it, are probably still watering after being on the receiving end of a couple of severe spankings in the past administered with thinly disguised fetishistic relish by the Lord of the Lies.
Ken Clarke, in contrast, owns Mandy’s ass.

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Not with a bang, with a bust-up.

The anti-Brown press – which is just about all of it, isn’t it? – is turning the screw on Labour today. Apart from the Mirror, of course, but no one reads that, there are reports coming in all over the place of recriminations beginning for what has been a terrible Labour election campaign, of splits between several factions appearing and of maneuvering behind the scenes to replace Brown already starting.

So far, we have seen Brown flip flop over the Liberal Democrats in two – let’s be honest for a minute here – generally dreadful TV debates for him, and during which he looked old and tired set against a pair of fresh-faced, would-be political assassins standing nearby, looking like peas in a coalition. Forget about what Brown said – (which was heard-it-all-before tractor stats in the main anyway) – it’s how he looked that counted. And he looked awful.
But is his problem really that superficial? Is it really a case of no style, just substance? Well, of course not. He does have a style of sorts, it’s just not a particularly pleasant one that usually involves swearing at people off camera and growling like some statistic-obsessed, gummy old circus lion while on it. Also, “style” – which I assume in this case means an awareness of the needs for certain kinds of presentational and rhetorical skills to communicate a message forcefully but attractively – does not denote superficiality, quite the opposite in fact. So no, Brown’s problem is not just that he lacks the charisma or charm of a Cameron, it’s that he lacks the debating skills, too. That’s a talent gap and one that Clegg does not share with him, as we have learned.
It’s not just Brown who’s been shown-up in his true light- hiding from the public throughout his so-called campaign, talking to small rooms full of T-shirt-wearing die-hard Labour loyalists, leaving TV viewers with the impression that he’s actually talking to himself – using an autocue(!) – it’s the disunited team full of second raters behind him too. What twit put Ed Miliband in charge of the manifesto? What fool put Peter “Divide and Rule” Mandelson in charge of party unity? What idiot put wee Dougie Alexander in charge of the coffee and cream cakes? That is a role call of mediocrity if ever I saw one ( have I got those roles right? They seem to change so often these days). And Labour has them coming out of its ears and we’re fed up to the back teeth with them.
Now, I know you will disagree with me about Mandelson, but before you do, just think very carefully and ask yourself what, exactly, he has achieved in his time in office that warrants the kind of respect and lavish praise he receives all the time? Is it because people are frightened about what he’ll do to them if they don’t toe his line? Of course it is. But to me, that’s no measure of political success – or of great service to your country. No, poisonous he may be, and an effective Labour party heavy and paid-up Euro goon too, but true statesman he ain’t and never will be. Remember, the answer to all of the above “What idiot…” questions is not just “Gordon Brown”, it’s “Peter Mandelson”, too. Seems he slithers out from under the charge of incompetence, though, because that’s what he does. Brown, fortunately, doesn’t. The full tidal wave of disapproval is about to reach landfall and swallow him up, before spitting him out hundreds of miles from Number 10. Mandelson already has a lifeboat standing by, with the EU logo stamped all over it.
It’s hard to tell how bad this defeat will be for Labour. Just like Boris Johnson, I hope it is one of those earthquake moments where their deceit, mediocrity, anti-democratic behaviour and general, total failure leads to their final demise, with the Lib Dems taking over the mantle of official Opposition to a Conservative government with a working majority. One thing is pretty clear to me: the final leaders’ debate is an irrelevance. It’s sort of like the final Test in a dead rubber. You go to see it because you like the sport, and someone might do something interesting. But nothing can change the fact that (from Brown’s perspective) the series has already gone. In other words, once again, I think the polls are flattering them and I firmly believe the defeat for Labour will be shattering.
For forcing the unelected, unelectable, utter disaster Brown on us for three years, that would be less than Labour deserves. As it is, they’ve run out of ideas and run out of options. All we will see from here until election day is the sad old fraud making bigger and bigger speeches in front of smaller and smaller rooms of loyalists, perhaps even after the election is over and the counts have come in. But he’ll keep on going, not willing to believe that the game is finished and the crowd’s gone home. Someone from Sky News watches on a monitor; the live feed was pulled hours ago. The producer signals to the cameramen to get ready to pack up – it’s time to go – as he reaches down and flicks the switch on the monitor and, for the last time, turns Brown off. Click.
And then he was gone.

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It matters not what I say here, or my impressions. The media are already in the process of spinning the living daylights out of what happened. So who ‘won’ is still in the hands of the opinion formers. How I loathe them.

For the record, I thought Cameron started off quite poorly in a very poor debate with even poorer questions (“Is the Pope a Catholic? And do you think he should be?”), but then, as the event wore tediously on, he came alive and finally showed some genuine passion, cornering Brown on smears (no irony there) and fisking Clegg on his pretty creepy immigration non-policy.

My view? A clear win for Cameron, over the cliff for Clegg and another trainwreck for Brown (to whom no one is now listening, including his own senior ministers).

The media view? Probably a narrow win for Cameron, an end to the Clegg surge nonsense – and a fair shocker for Brown. So that’s something.

But, and this, to me, is the important thing, the momentum in this election is now with David Cameron after an assured performance, on balance, and one that will give floating voters confidence in him and in the Conservatives. That’s good.

YouGov poll on Sky: Cameron 36%, Clegg 32% and Brown (amazingly) 29%

So I was right about the media thing, sort of, then

Campbell lying saying desperately now: “Brown was excellent, I don’t care what your poll says”.

So now we know: Brown lost by a country mile.

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I have to admit it, and I don’t like having to do it, but I’ve been blindsided by the anti-politics surge the Libdums have enjoyed. I didn’t see it coming and it caught me by surprise. But I can’t just dismiss it as a freak – it’s too significant, too important to write off as a mere coincidence and too ominous for the Conservative-minded, like me, to ignore. What’s more, if I’m being honest (for a change), Cameron was surprisingly disappointing in that debate thing, and he shows no signs of recovering his momentum – yet. (I reckon he will, though.)

So what’s the problem? Well, it ain’t the Libdums. They’re still a pack of political mongrels as far as I’m concerned and, in that, about as appealing as Monster Raving Loonies. Mind you, at least the Loonies know they’re nutters and do it for the fun. They know who they are, the Libdums don’t.

On the one hand, the Libdums (especially their ex-Labourist grandees, like that grammar school destroying, arrogant bitch Shirley Williams) are a party of the Left, who believe that stealing people’s money can always be justified because society (which they confuse with ‘body politic’, as all socialists do) always comes first, and taxation is the means by which society’s ‘behaviour’ can be ‘modified’ (they really use those terms – them and the BNP. Sinister, ain’t it?).

On the other hand, they are what Margaret Thatcher might regard as Tory ultra-wets, or, in less colourful terms, old-style ‘radicals’ (in the revolutionary American sense), but who believe in the post-war consensus, managed decline, the intrinsic desirability of European transnationalism, country-not-court and beard growth. Believe me, electoral reform comes last on their list of priorities, whatever they say to the contrary, especially if they annihilate Labour in the general election – which always should have been their aim in the first place (duh!). Count the younger members of that party among the ‘radical’ number, including the leader, Vince Clegg (whatever).

In other words, it’s a bizarre pushmepullyou party of Heathites and Bennites, of bleeding heart, self-banished, auto-flagellating young Tories and superannuated, pseudo-intellectual, old Labour defectors whose pomposity is ony trumped by their vanity.

The problem is not the Libdums. They’ll take care of themselves, eventually. The problem is the amount of damage their antipolitics surge is going to do to the outcome of this general election in that there is a distinct possibility that Cameron is dead right – vote Libdum and get Crash Gordon. The only consensus I can discern in Britain at the moment, not only from reading the internet tealeaves, but from every one of my friends, acquaintances and colleagues, is that five more years of Brown would be an intolerable imposition on a country that never wanted him, never voted for him and never liked him. A split vote letting him in would be a total catastrophe, after the damage he’s already inflicted on it, for a nation that is just about getting through the year in tact, and is seriously worried about the next few.

It’s not just me that’s been blindsided by this Liberal surge, though, it looks to me like the country has, too, especially the people seriously entertaining the notion that the way to punish politicians is by voting for the underdogs, thus letting the worst offenders of all of them back into power. Confused? I am. And so are, I imagine, the Tories.

However, and this is a big rider, if this really is one of those earthquake moments in British politics; if Labour are about to be (rightly) smashed down to third-party status by the Liberals, after their 90 long years in the wilderness, then so be it. It’s an outcome I suppose I can live with, as long as Brown is gone and Labour do receive the massive kicking at the polls that they so richly deserve. (It’s already happening in a slightly different way in my town, where Plaid look like they almost certainly will oust the sitting Labourist MP for the first time in the town’s history ever.)

Guido Fawkes has kindly provided us with a thought experiment illustrating how this “Change Coalition” narrative might flow. It’s well worth the read. Personally, I don’t think a government like that would last six weeks. The Libdums’ severe internal ideological contradictions would destablise everything within days. But, nevertheless, it does sort of look like a grownup solution that would satisfy apparently shifting public political appetites – and it would tick my top two boxes, too:
1) No more Brown
2) Labour crushed

It seems that some clouds might have two silver linings.

It all depends on Clegg, though. But I don’t think he can be trusted because I don’t think he’s got much authority over the party we are supposed to believe he leads for the reasons I’ve already given.

So, ultimately, as far as I’m concerned, it’s business as usual for us Conservatives, despite the blindsiding: Cameron has got to come out fighting and go in for the big win.

There is no alternative.

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