the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius

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The First Debate

The first ever UK leadership TV debate was remarkably civilised, I thought. I'm not sure who'll be regarded as the winner but these are my thoughts.

Clegg started out strong and came across as a reasonable-sounding straight talker but by the end he'd lost the initiative and was reduced to positioning himself as an alternative to the back-and-forth between Brown and Cameron and trying to prove his hung parliament cred, with little to add.

Brown's early attempts to take shots at David Cameron didn't come across well and made him look nasty, especially when Cameron didn't take the bait. His my-preacher-man-daddy asides and his oh-dear-I-fear-for-the-economies didn't ring too sincere for me either. His early attempts to schmooze Nick Clegg with I'm-sure-Nick-agrees lines fell away after it became apparent that Clegg was going to cut him no slack.

Cameron could have torn chunks out of Gordon Brown but didn't, repeatedly. I think that probably worked in portraying him as more dignified but it would've been better TV if he'd gotten a bit righteous now and then. I thought he came across well, if fairly restrained, but the big society stuff just sounds too contrived and phoney.

The problem for the Lib Dems was that while Clegg started out with some sensible-sounding things, by the time the 'waste' issue came up, the more Clegg used the word 'waste' the more he was making the Tories' case for them. At one point David Cameron could have just turned around and said 'you're dissing us about not identifying waste, and then talking about the waste you've identified. So tell you what: we'll save our waste as well as cherry-pick yours then. Now stfu n00b.'

I think neither Cameron nor Brown want to diss Clegg in case there's a hung parliament.

The elderly care group hug was a waste of time. Ironically, it's probably one of the biggest budget time bombs the country faces (once the deficit's paid off in a decade or two's time).

I wonder if there'll be anything made of what happened at the very end, when Cameron pulled Clegg back and they both stood back and watched Gordon Brown go a-hand-shaking. It made Brown look like a bit silly - I wonder what the story was.

Update: the papers unanimously give the victory to Clegg. I wonder what that means in terms of votes.

{2010.04.15 - 17:01}

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