Insights from the UK and beyond
Debate novelty wears thin
Thank God it’s over! The magic was certainly gone in the last of the three TV debates. Or perhaps we have just become too accustomed to this particular reality show which just seemed unexciting after the excruciating embarrasment of watching Gordon Brown being forced to apologise to a pensioner after he was overheard calling her “bigoted”.
The economy was meant to be in focus. But we heard nothing from any of the three party leaders we have not heard before. Labour’s Gordon Brown asked the public to trust his judgement. He called it right in the banking crisis and the economy cannot withstand spending cuts right now.
Conservative David Cameron, voted winner in two separate polls, repeated his line that action had to be taken on the deficit now and raising National Insurance would hurt the economy. And the LibDem leader Nick Clegg repeatedly reminded us there was a third way.
But people have seen him non-stop for two weeks now and the seeming freshness that gave his performance a shine in the first debate was gone. The three clashed also on education and immigration but on the really big issue of how they would actually bring down a budget deficit running at over 11 percent of GDP — there was no more detail at all.
Instead, Brown abandoned trying to cosy up the LibDems. He lumped them together with the Tories, raising the spectre of a coalition between the two. Cameron no longer referred to the prime minister as Gordon, preferring his title almost each time. And Clegg stood in the middle, saying a vote for him would not be wasted. The governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King is reportedly telling friends that whoever wins the election will probably put his party out of power for a generation — so harsh are the spending cuts to come. Maybe third place Brown is the winner after all.