I actually approve of the idea of a TV election debate – unfortunately they’ve turned it into more of a well vetted policy discussion. Not so good (put them all on News Night! ).
But who did well tonight?
Well I’m something of a Liberal so I obviously will say Nick Clegg; but I really do think he played the night well and made big gains against the others.
He was confident, that was what surprised me the most. The others were quite nervous and stumbled over a few of the “light hearted” moments (which felt very forced; “we have to be jolly m’kay”). I noticed that Clegg, on the other hand, faced the audience when he spoke and addressed them very clearly.
There was a lot of sucking up to the Lib Dems too. “I agree with Nick” was heard quite a bit. Labour particularly are cosying up - it seems the main parties are actually planning for a hung parliament…
This is an extraordinary opportunity for the Liberals; they have clear policy, a great Chancellor, a non-offensive leader and a published budget (I encourage you to read it). And best of all the two main parties seem to be really recognising them as an opposition party and a potential ally.
It’s an opportunity they must sieze. Perhaps not to win this election but at the very least to steal a substantial vote.
Here is what I think the next moves should be. They are ballsy, sure, but I think that potentially it could even win the election for them
- Nick Clegg should go on Question Time. He has nothing like as much to lose as the other leaders and I think he can take the heat. Going on QT would give him credibility with a lot of people – and show he has guts.
- Vince Cable should be paraded in front of every TV camera possible. He should be asked difficult questions on the budget; he’s smart and has a good budget proposal (because he’s actually, you know, an economist) so can handle it.
- Exploit the sucking up. Court the main parties then show them up for it. Show that you are, essentially, the deciders of the next Government. Let the parties fall over trying to win your support while you focus on a real election campaign.
- Nail the youth vote, hard. Obama won in part because of his ability to push a liberal youth agenda. Get in on the technology – in a genuine way – and get the kids voting. Pretty much everyone under 25 that I know is thinking Yellow at the moment
- Also push the “working mans” vote. I think there is a lot of disgruntlement there – with many now voting BNP because they dislike the main parties and others only sticking with their votes because they cannot support a racist party. These should be easy votes to win; with honesty and integrity.
- Announce a sweeping reform of the Parliamentary system. Extreme reform. This one is a pipe dream but I think if they pitched it hard enough then there might even be an election win on the cards…