Friday 23 April 2010

Politics or cake?

I’ll keep this quick because you’ve no doubt been pumped full of analysis by now.

After the debate last night I was presented with the choice of either writing a blog post or having a glass of wine and home-made blueberry muffin and so found myself politically apathetic all of a sudden.

However, watching the leaders knock chunks off each other was immensely more fun than the first debate.

Cameron did much better, enough to get him back in the lead, but only just. He didn’t shine. Meanwhile Clegg held out well, sometimes against a pretty intense joint-offensive from the other two.

Without a doubt for me the most improved performance was from Brown.

He managed to capture some of the gravitas that has often eluded him so far – he appeared substantial and was aggressive. I thought his closing statement was arguably the strongest.

As for who won overall, I would honestly call it a score draw. It sets it up beautifully for the last round which is on BBC and so might attract a bigger audience too.

Let’s see if that Clegg effect lasts another week.

This image may disturb you...

Those Tories are getting more and more creative on photo-shop. This is the image from their new poster.

The caption, which I've chopped off, suggests Brown can’t answer the question about his dodgy leaflets which make false claims about other parties’ policies.

"Yeah but, no but" is obviously the quoted phrase. It's certainly striking, if not a little disconcerting.

It was apparently produced in response to a Labour poster, which I admit I haven't seen.

But if Labour hasn't already, they should broaden this theme out I say and come back with a poster depicting Clegg and Cameron as Lou and Andy.

Lou Cameron: "Now Nick, why don't you have a lovely chair at the end of Commons Chamber near the door."

Andy Clegg (pointing at the despatch box): "I wont tha' one!"

I leave Labour bloggers to do the photo-shopping...

Thursday 22 April 2010

Gordon's jaw, floating like a jellyfish

Stary eyes...

So much thought must have gone into tonight’s TV debate that it has the potential to be a feast of botched strategy.

I read somewhere that Cameron had been told to look into the camera more. It’s funny how people always said Clegg was too much like Cameron, and now it might be the other way round.

I know everyone raved about what a great effect Clegg’s staring had last time. But I have to say it made me feel a bit uncomfortable.

As Matt Chorley put it, “I was afraid he’d still be there when I turned the TV off.”

If they all start to stare into the camera it’s going to feel like they are trying to hypnotise us.

Cameron will be aching to shine, but will not be able to use his main weapon – cutting wit. He has to attack without being too aggressive, and be better at getting his message across.

Brown will be doing his best not to lose again. But what on earth can he actually do about Clegg?

If he just agrees with the Lib Dem all the time it’s a nationally televised admission that he thinks Labour can’t win the election.

If he and Cameron both start attacking too much, not forgetting the faeces the nationals chucked at Clegg today, it’ll make the Lib Dem look like a victim, winning him sympathy.

Predictions are a risky business in this election, but I’m going to say that I reckon Clegg will enjoy another bounce from tonight – though not nearly as big as the last one.

I say that because his task is once again easier than the others’. Cameron really has to pull it out the bag for it not to happen.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Manifesto Pledge of the Day

The Peace Party Manifesto: Appropriate Health Care pledges J and K

j. Decriminalise, then legalise, all psycho-active substances, bringing them into a system of education, regulation and taxation.

k. All psycho-active substances to be available for purchase through outlets registered with local authorities.

I guess the idea is you can’t fight if you’re stoned. Sounds like hazy thinking to me.

Two future Midlands ministers/shadow ministers...

Travelling around the Midlands I’ve had a chance to meet all manner of candidate – from the “we’re all doomed if he ever gets in” to the “why can’t they all be like that”.

I thought I’d note two that I’ve met who should be ones to watch after May 6. I imagine they might both walk into ministerial or shadow ministerial positions.

First up is Liz Kendall. She is replacing Patricia Hewitt in Leicester West and was also the former health secretary’s special advisor.

She was also a special advisor to Harriet Harman and an associate director at the Institute for Public Policy Research, a favourite Labour think tank.

Despite the stink made by her predecessor Kendall will probably win her seat comfortably, she is defending a majority of 9,070.

I met her for the first time yesterday at a rally where Ed Balls was speaking. She was confident, self assured and not afraid of the press. Why anyone would be I couldn’t say, but many are.

Then there is Karen Bradley who is standing for the Conservatives in Staffordshire Moorlands, she has a tougher fight on her hands to win her seat.

At the last election the constituency was won by Labour’s Charlotte Atkins, but due to boundary changes it is now considered a notional Tory seat.

Bradley was a big hitter for KPMG and worked directly under David Cameron when he was head of policy.

She has also worked for Michael Howard and with George Osborne on the party’s response to the budget and Finance Bill.

She knows her stuff economically and will not be far away from the Treasury team if she gets in.

Monday 19 April 2010

Tories switch election broadcast...

Lobbydog hears that the Tories switched the party election broadcast they were originally planning for tonight – which went about attacking Labour.

Instead they have come up with this. Something which aims to fight back against the Lib Dem surge.

The strategy is typical of the Conservative quick reaction to events – Cameron reacted faster throughout the expenses crisis, for example.

But I’m not sure the switch of strategy in the middle of a campaign like this is their best plan.

In scrapping what I’m told would have been more of a direct attack on Labour, Cameron is taking the heat off.

Also what if the next debate reverses the Lib Dem surge as quickly as this one boosted it – then a vital chance to reach the electorate will not have been fully capitalised on.

It’s a risk and maybe it’ll pay off, but maybe the steady path should have been held to until at least after the next debate.