Little and Large gang up on posh boy Cameron
The Mole: Clegg’s triumph in the first debate increases the chances of Brown seeking a Lib-Lab pact
David Cameron is under pressure to drop his nice guy image and come out fighting tougher after Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem challenger, outshone both the Tory and Gordon Brown in the first round of the leaders' debate.
Sky TV marked it Clegg 37 per cent, Brown 32 per cent and Cameron 31 per cent, while the Sun gave Clegg 51, Cameron 29, and Brown 19. The ITV instant poll of 4,000 viewers marked it Clegg 43, Cameron 26 and Brown 20.
Clegg's personal triumph will increase the chances of Gordon Brown seeking a Lib-Lab pact, especially after the televised leader debate was dominated by Brown's efforts to 'love bomb' the Lib Dem leader. Brown repeatedly told the viewers "I agree with Nick..." It sounded like he was preparing the ground for the negotiations in a hung Parliament, especially over electoral reform, which Cameron will not offer Clegg.
Clegg and Brown looked like a new Little and Large double-act as they made Camo the piggy in the middle. Together, they ganged up on the posh boy with too much blusher, who appeared puzzled as to why he was failing to connect.
There were times when Brown looked like a plodding heavyweight chasing two lighter, younger fighters around the ring. However, it's a three-round fight. Next week it's international affairs but the final round could be the decider, when the debate will be dominated by the economy.
Blair once said Brown would deliver a clunking fist on Cameron. It's in the final round that he has to do it, and Cameron, in turn, has to find a knock-out punch of his own to floor Brown.
Cameron's best shot in last night's debate was the repeated use of the 'tax on jobs' attack on Brown's increase in National Insurance Contributions. But the Tory appeared so desperate to be 'nice' on television, he even avoided direct eye contact with Brown.
Camo will now be advised to mix it with Brown, punch below the belt if necessary, and jab hard at Brown's age, as a living embodiment of Old Labour. "You just don't get it Gordon... cutting taxes is good for the economy."
Brown stuck to policy, and sounded magisterial. His strongest case against Cameron was the fear factor. He repeatedly said he feared that the Tories' pledge to take £6bn out of the economy would cost thousands of jobs. That will play powerfully with the hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, worried about their jobs.
The TV debates may have got off to a cagey start, but they could still prove the decider in this close-run election. ·
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