The Third British Debate
The Scotsman, April 30th 2010
This was a combative, fascinating debate, starting slowly, which built up as each of the leaders reached for the elusive knock out blow.
Cameron opened talking about the state of the nation and ‘the economy stuck in a rut’, Clegg, of ‘doing things differently’ (again), and Brown acknowledged that he sometimes ‘didn’t get things right’.
Then it was on to an evening talking or not talking about cuts, tax cuts, inheritance tax, bankers and the economy. Cameron saw a country wrecked where he promised to ‘roll up his sleeves’, whereas Brown invoked ‘my plan’ and ‘my deficit reduction plan’.
Brown had a host of constant mantras all evening: invoking the six million people on Tax Credits, his belief in ‘fairness’, and going on and on about ‘the same old Tory Party’. Cameron slammed Labour again and again on their ‘Jobs Tax’, whereas Brown like a broken record returned repeatedly to Tory plans for inheritance tax cuts.
The immigration debate got animated and heated as they all traded numbers; Clegg’s amnesty and Cameron’s cap, while Brown looked sheepish. Then came Brown’s comment on welfare that there should be ‘no life on the dole’, something which seemed more a threat, than an observation.
In the closing comments, Brown seemed uncertain, claiming his two opponents were ‘not ready for government’. Cameron stated that Labour ‘were more of the same’ while the Lib Dems offered ‘uncertainty’. Clegg, who had been sidelined some of the evening, closed with his best words, inviting people to ‘choose the future you want’ and signing off that: ‘This time you can make the difference’.
This was a debate which for all heat and point scoring, none of the leaders won, which may well be enough for Cameron and may continue Cleggmania, but is bad news for the damaged, bullet ridden Brown.