Thursday, April 15, 2010

So the time is almost upon us.....

Entirely cliched and utterly appropriate, but today is an historic day in the UK because, as most will know, it's time for the leaders to debate on live TV without the backdrop of their cheer leading hoards in the Commons. I'm not 100% sure of the format plans for the debate itself, but what is for sure is that no one will have a big bulky envelope full of briefing papers to help them.

I have little doubt that if someone utters a dodgy statistic it will be ripped apart online before the credits begin to roll. In fact, this is possibly the biggest problem Brown faces because, I think it's fair to say, he absolute loves reeling off numbers. The cynic would say he does this to bamboozle, but I don;t think he does, I just think he does it because he thinks it how we all think and talk.

The biggest winner tonight, like with the Chancellor debate though, is most likely to be the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg. Never before has the party gained so much exposure. It may be unfair to say it, but the advantage the Lib Dems have had for many years is being able to say things that might not be popular because they know, in their heart of hearts, that they're not going to win outright - that approach, just this once, might provide them with immense advantage.

I say "just this once" because, if we assume that tonight sets the precedent for all further General Elections, that gain the Lib Dems might get tonight might not be something they can tap into quite so much in the future if they find themselves in a more elevated position of power. You can be more "honest" (and I use that word very lightly) when you know you're not going to win overall, but if after the polls close they find themselves with a massively hiked contingent in the Commons, politics becomes that little bit more delicate.

The expectation management from Labour has already begun, with sources telling papers they don;t think they're man will do the best initially. Another danger from Brown will come, not in what he says, but what he does when others are talking. Like it or not, he has a tendency to fidget and do things with his hands that might appear out of place. His smile can look forced, and unlike in the Commons, he can't pretend to not be listening. He'll need to control his temper too which, rumours about flying Nokias aside, is apparent in the Commons on occasion.

One thing we can be sure of this, online, be it on blog or Twitter, each side will probably claim victory barring an absolute car crash by one of them.

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