Friday, April 30, 2010

Cameron and Clegg are hailed the winners of final leaders’ debate.

In the last debate it seemed to me that they all resorted to type.

Cameron even cited the same things which William Hague cited when he faced Tony Blair all those years ago and promised not to join the Euro and to "keep the pound". He then, once again, promised to go after benefit cheats, sounding like a typical Thatcher Tory.

Brown made the argument that the recovery needed to be supported and that Cameron's plans to reduce the deficit immediately could lead to a double dip recession.

Clegg argued that it was indecent that the top 20% of earners in this country paid a lower percentage of their income in taxation than the bottom 20%.

And Cameron slithered around when answering why he has decided to give tax breaks - through the inheritance tax - to the richest three percent of the country. As Clegg pointed out, Cameron came out with "the most creative justification I have ever heard for giving tax breaks to double millionaires." Brown countered that Cameron was proposing helping double millionaires in this way whilst also promising to cut child tax credits.

And yet I read in this morning's paper that people think that Cameron won this debate.

A ComRes survey for ITV News found that the Tory leader was seen as the winner by 35 per cent, with Mr Clegg on 33 per cent and Mr Brown on 26 per cent.
I don't know what measurement people are using to make Cameron the winner, unless refusing to answer difficult questions is, in itself, some sort of skill.

He simply refused to answer the question about why he was so keen to give inheritance tax breaks to multimillionaires whilst cutting child benefit. Indeed, he waffled on about protecting the middle class instead of answering the question he had been asked.

But, leaving aside who won or didn't win this debate, even Brown appears to have accepted that, as far as the Labour party is concerned, this election is all over.
Mr Brown appeared to concede that he was heading for defeat in next Thursday's election. "I know if things stay as they are David Cameron, perhaps supported by Nick Clegg, will be in office," he said.
I found Cameron as unconvincing as I always find him. He's a snake oil salesman, saying what he thinks you want to hear and simply avoiding answering any questions which make him uncomfortable.

The only comfort I take out of all of this is that Clegg might just have done well enough to deny Cameron a large majority. At these times we should be thankful for small mercies.

Mervyn King implied yesterday that whoever wins this election is being handed a poisoned chalice:
"I saw the Governor of the Bank of England last week when I was in London and he told me whoever wins this election will be out of power for a whole generation because of how tough the fiscal austerity will have to be."
I have said before that I think it would do Labour good to lose this election. The Tories were severely punished - and took more than a decade to recover - when Major won an election which he should have lost against Neil Kinnock.

That particular chapter of history is not going to repeat itself here.

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