Just a few thoughts on last night's debate before I pop off out for the day again. All three of them were better than they were in the last better at the beginning, they've clearly all got used to the format now. Clegg was, in my view, edging it at first, but then he kept on repeating things that are now getting annoying.
"Two old parties", "old politics" and, bizarrely as I guess many others will have pointed out, a reference to a Treasury type position of "Vice Chancellor" which I thought existed in Universities or the German Government, but not in the Parliament. He said it twice I think, and, had it been in the Commons he would have got slaughtered for it.
Oddly though, and perhaps because Brown and Cameron had been coached on avoiding deeply personal attacks on slips of the tongue it wasn't. That he said it twice though would have been to much for me and I would've had to point out that the one in the middle who kept saying "do something different" was so different he was making up positions.
Personally, what I didn't like was the way the whole thing was like a neuro-linguistic programming contest to see who could drip they're repetitive little catch phrases into our brains the most.
The general feeling was that Clegg got hammered on immigration by the other two, personally, I thought that whilst he did get hammered by them his argument was actually the most sophisticated because it essentially comes straight out of the drug decriminalisation playbook about how the criminal gangs rely on prohibition or illegal immigrants by operating in a black economy - starve the black economy, solve the problem.
Whilst I say it's the most sophisticated of the arguments, it doesn't really play well with most people, just as the decriminalisation of drugs argument doesn't play well either. The other two rightly hammered him on the assumed logical conclusions of an "amnesty" that you just send a message that if you come to Britain illegally then disappear for long enough you'll be allowed to stay eventually.
So that's it for the debates, finally over and a week to go until polling. The precedent has now been set for debates, but, I'm wondering now how the format, length, and timing will change next time. They seem to have dominated the agenda and created a three way race that means we'll probably have another election within the next year - something that will greatly please the politics junkies and make normal people groan.
Oh yes, I think Cameron won the debate in the end but was looking shaky at first. Brown just isn't suited to the format and I think he looks tired and deflated somewhat - understandable after the whole "bigot" thing. The next week should be very interesting now we're back into traditional campaign territory.
P.S. Best gaffe off the night was Brown at the end, who, thanks to a bit of a stutter and his accent, really did sound like he said Cameron was going to give tax cuts to the "richest cunts" in the country - I double-taked when it happened.