Friday 16 April 2010

I met a man the other day who told me...

...that Nick Clegg won the debate. So I suppose that makes that true.

That's a little unfair - he probably did win it. But now that everybody is telling everybody that he won it, he definitely won it.

In no particular order, here are the things that struck me about/during last night:

1) There are two more of these things to go. What will there possibly be left to say by the third?
2) Given that it was widely acknowledged that Vince Cable won the Chancellors debate because the Red and Blue candidates spent their time beating each other up and thus letting him rise above the fray, why did we get to watch the exact same thing happen this time? What price these debate strategists we hear so much about.
3) When Cameron was going on about "they'll waste your money to put up taxes", wouldn't it have been great for Brown if he had that very day had his position (i.e. thatCameron's plan threatened the recovery) endorsed by 55 leading economists? And had used those big guns to counter Cameron's pet business leaders, thus at least neutralising his opponent's Appeal to Authority? Sadly, he just didn't have that opportunity.
4) Some people can integrate pre-written jokes seamlessly into apparently extempore remarks. Brown can't, and should stop trying. I mean, seriously, read this transcript:

Now, there's been a 75% success in this project, so you can bring the reoffending rate down. But I do come back to this central problem that we face - I'm grateful, by the way, David, for you putting up these posters about me and about crime and about everything else. You know, there's no newspaper editor done as much for me in the last two years, because my face is smiling on these posters, and I'm very grateful to you and Lord Ashcroft for funding that.

What in Christ's name? Was it the word "face" that prompted him to abandon "the central problem" for an ill-constructed jape about Ashcroft and posters and ... stuff? You've only got a minute to answer, so don't waste it on laboured jokes. Play to your goddam strengths.
5) The challenge to provide guarantees on Education, Policing and Health. Apparently, it is Labour investment vs Tory cuts after all. It might work as a way to put Cameron on the spot once, on a question about the economy. Levering the police and schools into a question on health specifically just makes you look like you're not actually discussing the issue you've been asked about. What's really amazing is that it was Clegg, not Cameron, who walked through the open door of "being honest with the public" and promising big cuts and not just flannel. I suppose it's because Cameron is now being positive about the future and "Age of Austerity" stuff doesn't fit in with that - if so, that suggests that Labour are going back to the position that didn't work, while the Tories abandon the position that did.
6) Speaking of health, someone needs to hammer the Tories on the whole "making cancer drugs available" thing. For a man whose current mantra is the need for government spending to be efficient ("I think it's really important that we start focusing on what we get out of the money that we put in, because if we think that the future is just spending more and more money, we're profoundly wrong.") he seems strangely blind to the notion that some very expensive drugs are far from guaranteed to be effective and that there might be better (i.e. more effective i.e. making more people healthier) options to spend that money on. Such as MRI machines to improve screening services. Or a specialist nurse. Or a paediatric intensive care unit. It's almost as if these decisions combine fearfully complex cost-benefit analyses with agonising moral dilemmas. And I would give your eye teeth to see Cameron made to admit that.
7) Cameron's mum was a magistrate. I bet she was. Plenty of spare time and a firm belief that her judgement was what was needed to sort out the local riff-raff. She may even have been right. But this is where Cameron's Big Society leads - power flowing to people who are a) convinced of their own acumen and b) easily able to afford the time to run a school. This is not a random sampling of the population at all.
8) There are two more of these to go.

For reasons that will hopefully never become clear, I should stress that the above are all personal opinions and in no way a reflection of my employer's position.

No comments: