Conservative Diary

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Christmas comes early for Brown and Clegg in the shape of election debates

How-to-make-a-christmas-gift-basket-45 I posted this reaction to the news that there will be three election debates earlier:

"I am disappointed if this story is true. Heading for a massive defeat these debates are a lifeline for Gordon Brown. They will also be a big boost for Nick Clegg. He'll be given a status that the third party in British politics has never had before. Polls suggest Cameron will win the debate and there are very low expectations for Brown (which will suit his advisers). I hope CCHQ don't live to regret this decision."

The most we should have given Nick Clegg was two debates. He isn't going to be Prime Minister. The nation deserved a Brown V Cameron head-to-head if there are to be debates.

On PoliticalBetting Mike Smithson puts it well:

"There’s little doubt that this will shape the entire election campaign and there’s also little doubt that these will become a permanent feature of UK general elections. The big winner from this is Nick Clegg who’ll gain a lot by being seen on the same platform as the other two. That fact has the potential to hurt both the bigger parties - particularly Labour. But the big loser could possibly be David Cameron who, in my view, has made a seriously bad decision. When you are in as strong a position as he is then the last thing he should have agreed to is something that could be a game-changer. Anything could happen. As we’ve seen in the US how the candidates are seen and react with each other can matter more than what they say."

My alarm at CCHQ agreeing to debates (largely I think because they'd boxed themselves into a difficult position) is NOT a lack of confidence in Cameron. This is what I replied to "Irene" earlier:

"When you heading for a majority of 80 you can only really lose from these debates. My main worry is the boost it will give to the Liberal Democrats. They'll get more attention than they've ever had in an election before. Even if Cameron wins every debate I can't see our position being much stronger than it is today."

I don't believe they'll enhance democracy either but that's a subject for another day.

Tim Montgomerie


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