Thursday 27 March 2014

Who won the Clegg - Farage debate last night?

So who won last night's debate between Nick Clegg of the Liberal-Democrats and Nigel Farage from UKIP? 

Most people gave the result to Farage, if only because Clegg came over as a third-rate university lecturer with all the charisma of a lump of wood. To make matters worse, when challenged on his party's own policies he resorted to telling Farage to "read the small print." That may be fine for a seller of dodgy insurance policies, but not from the leader of a major political party. In effect what Clegg said to the people of Britain was that his party duped them with fancy footwork.

Even the fact that Farage is a shortarse, as you can see when you look at him standing next to 6' 1" me, did not tell against him. He came over as a cheeky chappy straight out of the Ken Livingston charm school. You might argue that a man his size cannot do the gravitas shtick, but that is not the point. Many a runt has compensated by becoming rather a pompous toad, but last night that dubious honour went to Clegg.

YouGov did a quick poll and 57% of its respondents gave the victory to Farage, as opposed to only 36% who backed Clegg. Most of the papers seem to be following that line, so are we to conclude that the cheeky chappy beat the lump of wood?

Well, we could argue that Clegg won a victory of sorts by positioning himself and his party as the voice of those who are one hundred percent committed to the European Union. That may be enough to prevent his party losing all its seats in the May European elections. Farage won the debate as far as the pollsters were concerned, and that should be enough to keep him cock-a-hoop.

So who do I think won? Well, Clegg spoke for the committed federasts and Farage for the Europhobes, and both energised their respective bases. However, most people are critical of the EU, and think it is very silly, not to say downright undemocratic, but it is not the major item on their political agendas. Cameron has offered a referendum after further negotiation, and that will probably be enough to strip away the soft underbelly of the UKIP vote. He must know that he cannot get the true believers in the federast camp to vote for him, but they never did, anyway, so let them stay with Clegg.

Looked at in that light, the victor last night was David Cameron.

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