Friday, 30 April 2010

The (Almost) Final Curtain...

What can you say?

The Leaders' Debates have come and gone, and the verdict of the instant polls is a "victory" for David Cameron. It is undeniable that Gordon Brown lacks the presentational flair of the other two, and that came across in the final debate last night. He also looked tired, but wouldn't anyone given the pressure he is under? Even so, I saw nothing in those debates to indicate a clear Cameron or Clegg "win". If anything, I thought Brown shaded it: he was more cogent, gave more facts and argumnets, and backed it up with passion and commitment.

I watched the debate on television, and Cameron said nothing, refused to answer direct questions and was the very personification, almost a parody, of his PR-driven personality. Clegg seemed (to me, but maybe I'm biased) to be Cameron MarkII with the difference that was extra ingratiating to the questioners, and he ran out of things to say on a number of subjects. And at the end of it, the viewers (with the exception of the ICM poll) thought Cameron had "won" with Clegg as runner-up.

Interestingly, for the second week in a row, that section of the population who listened to the debate on the radio put Brown first in their judgement. Which would seem to indicate that when you actually listen to what is said, Brown has more substance. Maybe its a fact that, on radio substance overcomes style, but on TV style overcame substance. And maybe, in the final analysis, the electorate prefers style over substance.

The question is: what do we do now? The newspapers are reporting the debate as if it was the election, and it's all over already. But there is still a week to go before the votes are cast. So the fight is still on, IMO.

The prospect of a Cameron-led government getting its hands on the UK economy and enacting the policies in their manifesto are really frightening. Whatever Brown got right or wrong, cutting the economic stimulus too early, as Cameron would do, is a recipe for disaster.

So Labour must not, indeed in the interests of the country cannot, give up on the campaign. Brown and his team must continue to push for their economic analysis to be implemented and they must ensure that the country is made even more aware of the dangers of a Cameron led majority or coalition government.

TBH, it's no longer about Labour loss or victory: it's about the future of the country, its economy and its social fabric. Above and beyond party political gain or personal ambition, these the things that are on the line, and these are the things that are worth fighting for.

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