Well, I was wrong. I was wrong on many counts.
First, I thought last night’s debate with the seven leaders would be boring but found it was able to cover some issues which would never have been otherwise covered at all – though climate change only got a nod, even from Natalie Bennett. I don’t agree with my friend Nick Tyrone that it was dull – not in comparison with the boring snoring (as they say) prime ministerial grilling by Paxman it wasn’t.
Second, I was wrong that Miliband was recovering his style. I realise this isn’t the way the polls saw it, but I thought he came across as rather creepy, with long lists of policies that seemed incoherent. I thought he got a drubbing on the NHS, and his hand signals seemed embarrassingly masturbatory.
Third, and I’m happy to say this, I was afraid that Clegg’s simplistic positioning as neither one thing nor the other would miss the point – that it would be too anodyne to catch attention. In fact, it suited the occasion very well.
It was delivered with passion and personality. I am, of course, biased, but I thought Clegg managed a kind of effortless dominance over the debate, where Cameron was too tired, Farage was too unpleasant and Miliband was too peculiar.
What I hadn’t realised was that four of the leaders (Miliband, Sturgeon, Wood and Bennett) would simply outline a sort of vague lefty conservatism, a rather woolly condemnation of bad things and demand for good things, and that would make the Clegg formula stand out.
I’ve read the polls. I know this isn’t the popular view, and I have tried to see the events of last night through the eyes of someone who was less committed. I have obviously failed.
But I have a feeling that Nick Clegg managed to build the foundations of a fight back last night that will resonate with people over the coming weeks. That isn’t clear yet. Nor is the sheer creepiness of the leader of the opposition. But my guess is that it will be. We will see.
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