The last seven days have been very strange. Nobody saw the result of the first debate coming. The fallout has been messy and unpredictable – not to mention disgraceful from the Daily Mail – because nobody could really gauge how real Clegg’s bounce was. I still don’t think they can. The betting markets have been all over the shop and have only just started to calm down. Tonight, I feel, will offer some sureity.
Smarkets currently has the odds of winning tonight’s debate thus: Brown, 9%, Cameron 49.5%, Clegg 55.56%. Obviously this is due to last week rather than the Lib Dem’s wonderful foreign policy. In reality it is pretty weak, light on detail and fairly naïve; pages and pages on climate change, one mention of terrorism. However, this won’t matter this evening. They did not support the invasion of Iraq which obviously earns them big brownie points with the electorate. A greater threat comes in the form of Clegg’s promise of an ‘In/Out’ referendum on the EU. As David Blackburn points out, this is utterly disingenious but it’s pretty smart politics. Cameron has surely seen it coming, but he, like Brown, is tarnished with not following through on similar promises. Only Clegg’s can still sound sincere. Strangely, the discarded notes of Clegg’s adviser John Sharkey, contain no such plot.
If Clegg dominates again his polls will surely hold firm until the election (barring any rent boy scandals) and, I think, probably exceed Cameron’s. DC has to blow this one out of the water and it will not be easy. Although to be fair, pity Brown’s advisers.
The second debate could seal the deal for a hung parliament. The real question is, what will it look like?
Photo: Andrew Cowie/ Barcroft Media