OK, not that I am biased or anything, but Nick Clegg clearly won.
However, to avoid sounding like a sad fan boy, I should say that he didn’t finish as strongly as I had hoped he would. It was a very good performance from Clegg and there were some very strong moments. There was a period of 20 minutes or so in the middle where he was clearly the boss. The bit in particular that had me cheering and punching the air was when he worked in the point about the banks and the Cadburys takeover. But there were no killer moments and some of the narrative about change that I wanted to see in there didn’t appear. Nick Clegg has consolidated the Liberal Democrats current position tonight. But for the record, that position is bloody brilliant, so well done!
The most improved performance I thought was Brown. Despite him looking very ill, he was much more effective than he was in the previous debates. The exception was the closing statement he gave, which was an awful attempt to frighten the voters, and was capped off with that scary smile. That moment just made me feel slightly ill. A better performance, but has he done enough to rescue Labour from the defeat they are heading towards? I think not.
The one with the real problem was Cameron. It wasn’t a bad performance. No real blunders and some good moments. Yet, the Tories are in the hunt for a majority. To secure that he needed to give the appearance tonight of being a credible Prime Minister. He did not achieve that. This was Cameron’s moment. He didn’t rise to it.
Finally, I just want to say I am bored with the issue of immigration now. Can we please have some talk about the environment in the closing days of the campaign?
News reaches me that the Charity Commission, the body that regulates standards in the voluntary sector, is considering a complaint made against independent candidate for Luton South Esther Rantzen.
Apparently Esther has a personal assistant who is part funded by the children’s charity NSPCC. The complaint concerns the possibility that if the PA has worked on Esther’s election campaign, rules regarding the involvement of charities in political campaigning may have been broken.
Journalist Nick Assinder has written a piece on the election campaign in Luton South for ePolitix. Like much of the coverage the seat has had he concentrates on independent candidate Esther Rantzen almost to the exclusion of everything else. However, he realistically concludes that she is unlikely to win the seat. Indeed his conclusion could be read as hinting at a Liberal Democrat win. The key passage is;
“Now, though, talk to voters going about their shopping in the Mall and market and, while the fury at Moran’s antics is obvious, the way that will be expressed in the ballot box is far less clear.
In 2005 the gap between Labour and the Tories was under 6,000 and between the Conservative candidate and the Liberal Democrat, just over 2,000.
And the Clegg effect appears to be working here, as elsewhere.
Luton South is one of the most reliable “bellwether” constituencies in the land, electing a candidate from the party that wins the election every poll since 1951.
At the start of the campaign that led most in the constituency to believe it would be a straight Lab-Tory fight. Not any more.”
There has been some lovely use of animation by parties and other groups during the election. Below I’ve selected some of my favourites. I find it quite reassuring that new technology is boosting, and bringing to a wider audience, one of the oldest forms of political communication, that of the satirical cartoon.
First up is a re-run of the Gorvid Camerown video from the Labservatives:
The second one is my favourite reaction to the first leader’s debate. If you didn’t watch it, don’t worry, this video will sum it up in 15 seconds:
Elections aren’t the easiest of things. I’ve been struggling to deal with the clash between working as part of the Liberal Democrat campaign team in Luton South and attempting to blog about the election. Last week it was the blogging that lost out. Lots to blog about but a lack of time or energy to do so.
One thing I missed out on was my reaction to the second leader’s debate shown on Sky News last Thursday.
I thought there were some extraordinary elements to Sky’s presentation. Other’s have written about how they thought they detected an anti-Clegg bias in aspects of it. But the thing that struck me was how over blown it all was. The woman who presented the post-debate discussion in the “spin room” was verging on the hysterical. Then there were the frequent shots of the images being projected onto the walls of the debate venue, which served no real purpose as far as I could see. It was as if the producers had said “We have spent a lot of time and money on producing these graphics and we are damn well going to show them”.
As to the debate itself, I go along with the general consensus that Brown and Cameron improved on their performances in the first debate and that all three leaders were much more evenly matched. I still thought Nick Clegg won, but only narrowly, and it was a better and more lively debate.
I said after the first debate that Clegg was capable of doing much better and he did. He was much sharper in this debate, less repetitive, and went on the offensive very effectively in defence of tricky Lib Dem policies. Yet I still think there is room improvement. To me it looked like Nick really got into his stride in the last ten minutes or so. I’ve seen people comment on how good his closing statement was. But my favourite moments were in the debate over the immigration question when he first challenged Brown and then challenged Cameron over the weaknesses in their policies. The Liberal Democrats were the ones who were supposed to be on the ropes on this question, yet Nick Clegg seemed to turn it round and make the responses of the other two look shallow.
I know I am being demanding but I want more like that from the Liberal Democrat leader in the third and final debate.
This is getting beyond a joke. I’ve heard the news that another independent candidate has entered the race to be the MP for Luton South. I don’t have many details yet as the new person is rather unknown but I believe his name is Faruk Chudury. Who this guy is and what his platform will be I’ve no idea. One thing I do know is that the voter of Luton South aren’t short of choice in this election!