It’s not who won, but who didn’t


Our first ever Prime Miniserial TV debate is over and my instant verdict is: (1) Nick Clegg, (2) David Cameron, (3) Gordon Brown. So David Cameron effectively lost, because he should have won.

Cameron has been the front runner for months, Labour (and Gordon Brown in particular) is clearly an unpopular government. Cameron ought to have walked it, but instead Nick Clegg ran away with it. David Cameron has not only not “sealed the deal” with the voters, but the debate demonstrated that he probably can’t. He failed to establish himself as the clear, unequivocal, and only “change” that was needed for people who no longer bought into New Labour. That could prove fatal.

The impact on the opinion polls and actual voting remains to be seen, but I suspect the result will see the Lib Dems surge mostly at the cost of the Tories, rather than Labour (but they will suffer to). But it is the Tories, still hovering at below 40% in most polls, who can most ill-afford to stumble. Labour almost certainly can’t win, but at this rate neither can the Tories. A hung parliament looks ever more likely.

PS – did anyone else notice how happy Alan Johnson was in the post-match interviews? Nothing to do with the fact his chances of becoming the compromise Lab-Lib PM just increased then….

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About Colin Talbot

Professor of Government at the University of Manchester, England.
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