Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Will the debates shape the campaign ?


I tuned in to the Andrew Marr show this morning in time to watch the paper review including Charles Kennedy who looked in fine form and showed what a huge asset he still remains and could be to the Liberal Democrats.

In the midst of the discussion, Charles said something which immediately got me thinking. I didn’t catch the exact words but Charles opined that the series of debates between the party leaders would be pivotal to the campaign and to the election outcome.

I think Charles is right in that the series of debates will be something different and it gives Nick Clegg a real chance to put his case across on the same platform as Messrs Cameron and Brown. It presupposes (which I think has a degree of accuracy) a degree of volatility and open-mindedness among the electorate. In the wake of the expenses scandal, it’s tempting to view politicians as at best self-seeking and to tar them all with the same brush.

I’m not convinced this negative view is valid – indeed, at the next election, there may be an audience more receptive than before to the voices of those outside the two main parties. Yes, there is strong evidence of a desire for a change of Government though that might also represent a desire for a change of politics as well.

David Cameron is no fool and he knows the election isn’t in the bag yet. He may also be well aware that a poor performance in the crucible of television debate might lead to real problems for his party because, for the Conservatives, it’s victory or nothing.

There’s still plenty to play for….

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