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Saturday, April 17, 2010

UK General Election 2010: Nice Nick Clegg can't believe his luck

From Simon Heffer’s column in today’s Daily Telegraph:

‘As Dave, in particular, has learned in the past 36 hours or so, the big problem with the "historic" leaders' television debate was that it was preceded by expectations. Gordon Brown, who I thought was mad to agree to take part, had everything to lose, and jolly nearly lost it after a wooden, aggressive, boring performance; Dave was expected to wipe the floor with him; and as for Nick Clegg, who was he, other than Vince Cable's valet de chambre?

We now know exactly who Nick Clegg is: he is Mr Integrity, the nation's sweetheart, the only honest man in politics. I had thought the public were a bit brighter than that, and would see through his pious, sanctimonious, oleaginous, not-me-guv display of cynical self-righteousness: but they didn't. And for that we can only blame the two inadequates with whom he had the good fortune to go in front of the cameras: for they were shocking.......

Mr Brown's impersonation of a robot, and his projection of all the charm of a caravan site in February, were pretty predictable: but the place where hair was really being torn out yesterday was around poor old Dave. The attempt by this trust-funded Old Etonian (and Old Bullingdonian) to come over as Mr Ordinary was rather tragic: if we have to hear much more about his children's state school and his family's experience of the NHS, some of us will need medical attention of our own......

It is a long haul from winning a beauty contest to winning a general election, and one imagines Nice Nick won't do that. But Dave now goes into next week's bout as the underdog. Mr Brown can't really get any worse, and has few expectations riding upon him: but if Dave underperforms again, he will be in very serious trouble. To land five years in No 10, he does not just need to squash an already imploding Labour Party: he needs to win a pile of seats from the Lib Dems. On last night's show, that is going to be a tall order: and if he fouls up again, the Lib Dems might even start winning seats from him. Still, it could have been worse: just imagine if he had had to debate with Ukip, too, about the real meaning of conservatism.’ 


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