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The Third Man

It used to be the case that a week was a long time in politics, but now, after the much anticipated Leaders debate last night delivered a surprisingly enticing slice of political drama, 90 minutes can be an entire career.

Enter stage left one Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats. Making a mockery of Conservative claims that Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable had an advantage from the centre position, he took his chance with both hands and delivered a positively authoritative performance which threw the election wide open.

While the other leaders flustered and blustered, trading the odd insult, he refused to be drawn and looked more like a potential Prime Minister than any of them. With undoubtedly the best candidate for chancellor also on his side, by rights they should now have a decent chance and will hope that the message begins to get across that a vote for the Lib Dems. is not a wasted vote.

For the first time in a long time there now seems to be a realistic alternative.

But, let’s not get carried away. There are another 90 minutes of fierce debate to come and things could all turn on their heads again and probably will. Now Mr Clegg is considered a worthy adversary, he will no doubt face a much tougher test in the next two debates.

To be fair all three did British democracy proud and at least appeared to be intelligent and passionate about their claims – it was undoubtedly good TV. Apart from, of course, the ITV set which proved yet again that ITV have little clue that TV has moved on since the 1980’s.

There is still not enough substance in policy, however, with Brown warbling on about statistics, (though he did at least make a couple of “gag” attempts which just about got through), while Cameron tried to bring every subject back to the NI rises which kinda missed the point. Even Clegg struggled a bit on a couple of issues.

Cameron must, however, be kicking himself this morning. Apart from a good section on defence, he looked slightly uncomfortable, even standing back from the lectern a couple of times whilst the others were trading lines. He has far more convincing to do, especially as he is backed by the most lightweight and inexperienced candidate for chancellor. ’Dave’ will never get away from the style over substance accusations and on a stage he was expected to excel on, the style ebbed away as well.

They will all learn from this historic event, however and the next debate will be totally different. I expect as we get closer to the election they will unfold to be much more entertaining and fierce.

In debate terms then it is 1-0-0 to the Yellow team, (2-0-0 if you count the Chancellors debate), but there is much to play for.

I only hope people do start voting for who they really want, rather than believing they have to vote red or blue as this is nonsense.

We all like it when a third or fourth football team come through to challenge in the Premiership, supporting their attempts to unseat the stranglehold held by the top two. This is no different.

The third man has justified his seat at the table; it is up to him to convince us he can stay there.


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  • Grey Haired Underwriter 19th April 2010 at 10:56 am

    Congratulations on your blog for democracy. The two party stranglehold on politics has always been unhealthy and the fact that one of the two ‘major’ parties wins without majority mandate has always anachronistic for the mother of parliaments. However I also believe quite strongly that we need to return to our parliamentary system and that these showpiece debates only re-inforce the modern perception that we are now effectively electing a president. Lord forbid that we continue to think that we have such dictatorial politics especially from a blusterer, a poseur and a relatively unknown (although with as much experience in governement as the poseur).

    Finally I am one of those who think that a coalition or hung parliament would be good for the country. It might stop the knee jerk legislative reactions we get to even the most minor problem and perhaps that would feed down to a quango such as the FSA