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All still to play for. GB won. DC not answering. NC on wane

Posted on 30 April 2010 | 11:04am

I caught a snatch of a Five Live phone-in on the TV debates this morning, where the sense of the calls I heard was the clear dissonance between what people thought, and what the polls and pundits said.

As I tweeted in advance of last night’s debate, the right-wing papers (ie the majority) were all going to give it to Cameron, just as last week they were all going to say he was the Comeback Kid after Nick Clegg outshone him as the Time for Change brand in round one. Likewise I think people are becoming very suspicious of these instant polls.

I would pay more attention if they were polls of undecided voters. Many people have made up their mind about GB. Those who know him, and have decided they are not going to vote for him are unlikely to give much credit to him for winning a debate, as in my opinion he did last night.

I know I am biased, tribal, can’t stand the Tories and think Clegg is becoming too sanctimonious for his own good and says next to nothing on policy. But I totally agree with one of the callers who said that some people say they want substance in their leaders but too often go for the style. (TB was something of a rarity in having both, which is why it is good to have him back on the trail today). The caller said only one person up there appeared to have real mastery of detail, GB.

I was also struck by how many questions Cameron refused to answer – on his plan to give a six-figure tax cut to the 3000 richest estates in the country (five or six times), his immigration cap (two or three) his damaging policies on manufacturing (three or four).

GB pressed home the key points about this being the vital year to support the economy with continuing government investment to get growth going, and also about the unchanged nature of the same old Tories.

He also managed to tie Cameron and Clegg together on the coalition of cuts of tax credits for children.

The Clegg phenomenon has just about held up for the first two debates but if the online traffic was anything to go by, the act was wearing thin. ‘Is there anyone he doesn’t agree with?’ asked one. As for his ‘let’s all work together,’ it is one of those easy-to-say nonsenses which is a nonsense precisely because elections are where you thrash out different views and different policies. As someone pointed out on here last night, in one answer he said we have to get back to manufacturing, and in the next was scrapping Eurofighter, without a mention of the tens of thousands of jobs affected. As for Cameron’s opening statement that we would have real change ‘like not going in the Euro’ … er, that is non-change.

In the so called spin room afterwards, all sides were claiming victory for their man, which I accept is a bit tedious. But I really did and do believe GB was head and shoulders above the other two on substance, that Cameron let himself down by not answering questions, and that Clegg was already looking a bit same old same old.

The right-wing media is so desperate for a Cameron win that the headlines today are all part of trying to create an unstoppable momentum for him. The good news is that millions saw for themselves and will trust their own judgement and that of their friends, relatives and colleagues much more than a media that has become more biased in this election than at any I have ever been involved in.

The polls are not great for Labour. True. But the sheer number of undecideds is good news for Labour. It means despite all they have seen and heard, despite all the posters, despite Murdoch, the Mail and the rest, they are still holding out against a Cameron premiership. And last night GB did a very good job of giving them the very good reasons why they are right to hold out, and right to keep asking the questions Cameron and Clegg don’t want to answer.

Everyone who believes in progressive causes, who believes in fairness, who believes in good schools and hospitals for the many not the few, and who believes that an unchanged, unprogressive, unmodernised, unfair Tory  government would be disastrous for Britain has to keep fighting to make sure it doesn’t happen.

* Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour

  • Alastair Cartwright

    Don’t remember you questioning the polls in 97 01 05 Alastair? Also remember majority of the press being Labour supporters, how times have changed.
    The big problem Labour has, is clinging on to this 30% of the electorate haven’t decided who to vote for. Unfortunately the 30% are all Labour supporters who can’t stand Gordon Brown.
    It’s finished AC. Labour have nothing positive left to say. End of an era. And when the public discovers just what a mess Labour have got us into, it’ll be a whole generation before they vote for you again.

  • Kitty

    GB did very well on the questions last night, I thought he was much clearer and more passionate than Cameron on all policy areas. But the entirely negative closing speech was a nightmare, the tone was totally wrong. No one ever wants to feel they are just voting for more of the same, however good or bad the situation is, we always desire some kind of change. There needs to be some aspiration or at least an acknowledgement that Labour have made mistakes, will learn from them and will use the experience to make the country stronger. For the final week please write some speeches for Gordon that are not so desperate and negative.

    My suspicions about the Conservatives were confirmed on last nights BBC London news where Michael Gove stated that more architects should lose their jobs as they have made so much from schools. This is a profession that has already been decimated by the recession. Ideology before jobs, as always.

  • Hamish

    What struck me most was Cameron’s inability to debate. He’s good at rote learning but seems to lack the intellectual agility to respond to points made by the others. In the tech industry, I think they’d him a “dumb device.” If (God help us) he was ever asked to lead any sort of coalition, he’d be torn to shreds by the factional elements if he can’t think on his feet. I’m getting so fed up with his windy rhetoric, generally prefaced by “what we’re saying is….(insert vague populist pointer)”.

  • John (chichester)


    Gordon Brown didn’t win any more that any of the other ‘contestants’, sorry candidates.

    They (and you) are deceiving the public. None of them answer a question head on. It’s all mantra and platitude.

    It’s more of the same. Spin!!

  • Chris lancashire

    I really think, like your Leader, you are becoming detached from reality. Brown won it??? Every poll puts him third (out of three) and that isn’t right wing newspapers, that is Joe Public asked by a polling company.
    And as for “substance” you continue to confuse Brown’s reeling out of tractor statistics with real policy. And he spent last night attacking Cameron, not setting out any “substance”. The guy has no realistic policy to deal with the defecit he created.
    We can, at least, agree on one thing, Boy Scout Clegg continually muttering about “the old parties” has very little to offer other than a collection of half-baked lunatic policies (join the Euro??? God help us)

  • alan gregory

    I’ve been a Labour voter all of my voting life, because that’s what people from my background did.

    I must admit to being increasingly disillusioned with Labour, I still wonder what right Tony Blair and Gordon had to stitch up a deal to run the country. That should be mine and every other voters decision.

    When the story broke about his misspelling of a name on a letter to the mother of a soldier killed in action. I was shocked, not about the misspelling or the alleged disrespect but, about the fact that Gordon Brown actually took the time to write a letter of condolence, that he didn’t let some junior aide do the job and that he has and continues to make no political gain from it.

    Equally with the bigotgate issue, take a look at the dictionary and see what bigot actually means and compare it to what Mrs Duffy said. I think you will find that the majority of us have expressed bigoted views at one time or another.

    His apology showed what a decent man he is and the continued attacks by Murdoch press is only going to help people warm to him.

  • jim brant

    I agree with your views on CamerClegg, but then as a committed Labour voter I suppose that I would. Unfortunately I don’t agree with your judgement on Brown’s performance. I think he was quite dreadful. he had a great opportunity to articulate the very strong case he can make on the big picture of the economic crisis, and instead he didn’t seem able to raise his eyes above the relatively unimportant detailed issues (especially tax credits, presumably because they are his ‘baby’). Twice he allowed Cameron to get away with blaming the government for the financial collapse – why on earth didn’t he come back strongly to point out that it was a global event, that all countries were hit, and that while the Tories got all the calls wrong he had been shown by events to have been right? No mention of the UK’s relatively low level of public debt, or of the tremendous progress that has been made since 1997 – more doctors, nurses, police, teachers etc etc. He even allowed Cameron to get away with his decision to depart from evidence-led NHS prescribing, and fund drugs that haven’t been shown to be effective.

    Blair would have made mincemeat of the two C’s, as you know very well. Brown completely missed his opportunity.

  • Henry

    I did not vote for TB in 97 as I incorrectly did not believe that he could bring the Labour party with him. I am not totally convinced that DC will deliver a combination of smaller/more efficient govt + maintain the fairness of services for those that need them most, and I really do not like his big society manifesto rhetoric. How will the broken parts of Britain organise themselves to deliver their own services? The inheritance tax give away is also unnecessary and reminds me of TB’s fox hunting gimmick to keep certain elements of the Labour party on side. HOWEVER, I can not bring myself to vote for GB. It is not because I dont like him personally. I think he is a decent man, if a bit difficult. I think we need a new leader that has the communication skills to lead and inspire a team. GB is not that man. My only choice is to go with DC. He is an intelligent and I think he is a caring man. If he wins I hope he follows his instincts and does not pander to the old Tory party that always end up delivering for the privileged few.

  • oldrightie

    You obviously love Elvis at £20k a pop, how about Roy Orbison and his song “All I have to do is dream”?

  • Tricky Dicky

    I am sick and tired of these instant polls…..truth is whatever poll you follow they all say one thing “there is no clear winner” know better then most about how the media apply their bias regardless of reality. Problem is there is now no Labour media outlets to find the antidote to all the tory media drivel.
    I maybe in the minority but I think these debates have been to the detriment of our politics. 24hr views not news is killing real fairness and real debate.
    Brown could stand in Hyde Park and offer £1m to every person over 18 and noone would take any notice the media have switched everyone off.
    I am also very fed up with millionaire commentators debating on the media comment shows where are the real people where are their views.
    No suprise Neil, Burley, Boulton, Randal, and Dimbleby are not interested in poor working class people, they are never going to face the choice between food for me or food for my kids.
    I am reminded of the old story about two sisters who took it in turns to go the school because they only had one pair of shoes between them…well that could become less funny in the next few years.

  • Graham Jones

    It is one thing to back the man,who has the political policies that match your editorials, but to lie to the public is just unforgivable. I don’t care what the papers think of policy or style, when they start to live out a denial that their man lost, and his biggest opponent walked the debate , you know your dealing with a media that’s paralysed by it’s own ignorance.

    Gordon didn’t need to deliver a knockout blow last night. He had them both on the ropes for the whole debate, and the audience watching could see what was happening for themselves. The fact that he showed some mercy with his opponents, will only enhance his reputation for fairness.
    When the point scoring was on policy for this one, there was only ever going to be one winner, and he delivered.
    The events of Wednesday seem a million miles away after last night. Dodgy polls have been a highlight of this election, especially when many of them have been conducted by a company who’s CEO is standing for parliament as a conervative candidate. Trying to buy the electorate with Lord Ashcroft’s un-taxed millions is bad enough, but distorting the picture to sway people is just as bad.
    I also trust the public to make their own minds up, but there can be no let up in our efforts to inform the public of the choice we offer. It is either economic recovery under a steady and reliable Labour government, or it is a double-dip recession under Cameron and Osbourne. Clegg’s policies on children, will lead to an increase in poverty, and a lowering in standards of infant education and parental support. H is cut from the same old cloth as Cameron, and has never had to struggle in his life. Vince Cable can’t ride to his rescue either, as his economic credibility is now in tatters. The only choice that is fair and sensible on May 6th is the Labour party.

  • Richard

    OK I’m not going to rise to the bait and pretend you actually believe what you have written here. It would of course be preposterous to say Brown won, he was just cringingly awful. Negative, boring, technocratic and looking so so tired, and still with that smile that provoked horror in my household every time it made its unwelcome and seemingly random appearances. Why haven’t you stopped him smiling? That’s something easy you could have done to help him, as well as the poor viewers, though most of the smiles at least seemed to come after the 9pm watershed.

    You talk endlessly about substance but where is it? He has had plenty enough time to outline his vision for this country and there is actually nothing there to get hold of. His only clear and unshakeable belief is that he can run the country better than anyone else through his own competence, but what he actually wants to do with five more years in office is still unknown. Cameron didn’t even bother to engage with him in this debate. Everyone could see the game was over.

    I guess the only question now is whether Labour starts falling out with each other before Thursday or has the sense to wait until after.

  • Charlie Reynolds

    “we’ve had it now”

    I think that is the most accurate poll you can find.

    It is incredible and pathetic to hear Labour talk about a friendly press when you had no opposition for almost 15 years. No complaints about Murdoch and the Sun then was there? For your hypocrisy, lies, spin, deceit and destruction of our economy for the next generation I sincerely hope Labour are punished on May 6th. It’s the least you deserve.

    PS – good to see Blair out today too. Let this election be a vote on 13 years of New Labour.

  • Stan Rosenthal

    I agree that Gordon towered above the others at last night’s debate, Alastair but I fear we might be reaching a stage in the campaign where people are not listening to him through the anti-Brown din created by our malign media.

    I think they now need to be jolted into paying attention to the main consideration in this election, maintaining the recovery over the coming year and beyond.

    In this connection the current scary news about the Greek situation and warnings by the economic pundits might actually help our cause.

    How about a blitz of publicity in the last week on the theme of this being NO TIME FOR NOVICES against the background of those crisis headlines?

    It might at least give the punters cause for second-thoughts as they cast their votes.

  • keyo

    Tony Blair’s coming to remind us about the illegal Iraq war, cash for peerages, mismanagement of the British economy, poodles, greed, crooked lawyers, sanction for criminals and money launderers, selling off government property to non-doms, a worse grin than Gordon’s, Cherie, education education education(not), carpetbagging, gerrymandering, misusing public office for personal gain, shredding of his expenses and his own financial dishonesty and greed. Bring him on.

  • John Brown

    Great post.

    You highlighted the importance of substance over style, but there needs to be an equal dose of both, and this GB fails on dramatically. NC and DC are both able to come across in a personable/approachable way GB has always with this. GB does of course deliver intelligent responses to complicated matters, but he does this in a way that appeals to a small minority of the public. What he fails to achieve is to communicate these policies/solutions/strategies to the masses with any shred of firey passion that the public now crave. He simply fails to generate the warm fuzzy feelings that I think public votes are now hinged on.

    People want to be inspired by the next prime minister (the Obahma effect), GB fails to light any fires in the bellies of the British public. No visible emotion, no visible passion – no votes.

  • Cuse

    Alastair. I wholeheartedly agree. The wife + I (me being a wonk, tribal Labour + passionate non-Tory. The wife being neutral, undecided and short on policy) marked the winner of each question last night.

    There was one clear winner. Whereas most questions were pretty even, GB pummelled Dave and Clegg on immigration. Pummelled them. Clegg lined it up with the 80% EU figure which demonstrates just how stupid Dave thinks we all are – but Brown finished it. He also forced Dave into that frowny, petulant look every time he brought up fairness in the tax system. On major economic questions, Brown again and again proved to be the winner.

    I was shocked by Dave’s new strategy – that being to ignore the question somehow demonstrated strength.
    But what most shocked me more was the apparent public reaction in the instant polls. I am stunned that they reported Dave as the winner. Are the electorate really that stupid? On no measure did Dave win apart from evasiveness. Actually, he clearly won on vacuousness.

    However – the devil is in the detail. I believe the Guardian showed in this in it’s more detailed analysis this morning – where Dave has been shown to be regarded as lightweight, spinning + shallow.

    Come on Britain! This country is unrecognisable from the one the Tories handed over in 1997. It is fairer, more equal, better served by public services, safer and above all a bloody great place to be. It wasn’t in the 80’s and 90’s before that.

    A vote for the Tories is the most dangerous and masochistic thing anyone could do at this point. Don’t make a mistake you will regret for another 18 years.

  • Murray Botes

    I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the radio phone-in. I suspect that the people who bother to phone in are the ones who dispute the consensus view of the pundits about the debates. The majority (which includes me) who agree with that view won’t bother.

    And as for Cameron’s IHT policy, it is of course quite legitimate to debate it but the Labour/LD attack on it misses the point or misrepresents the point of it and its attractions, which I’d sum up in 3 ways:
    1. the new zero-rated band STOPS at £1m, so on an individual basis it is precisely NOT the million pound estates that are being targeted, it is those below £1m

    2. The ‘3000 richest individuals’ line overlooks the fact that the biggest beneficiaries will be the far, far larger number of people inheriting estates between £325k and £1m, and also it is the heirs, not the deceased, who are taxed by IHT. The heirs may be rich already but may well not be.

    3. The Tory policy does not ‘give’ money to people, it allows them to keep more of what their family already owns. What their parents or grandparents own is not surprisingly often very important to people and they don’t want to be forced to sell it or hand it over to the revenue.

  • Anthony Gregory

    It has been deeply frustrating to watch the Labour Campaign this time round, having been involved in previous elections, both successful and not. The reason why Cameron and Clegg “won” the debate last night was because GB is having to defend his record for the last 13 years at a time where the economy is in the doldrums and we have this huge national debt. However Gordon should have been talking more about the Government’s achievements over the last 13 years and why we have this debt because of the need to re-build the country after the Thatcher years and to stop us going into a depression which is what Cameron’s policies would have done and could still do. I don’t like these debates because GB isn’t media friendly in these days of style over substance (Would Clement Attlee have won in 1945 if there had been the same level of scrutiny?) and we have a Head of State and that is the Queen. We are not the USA nor do we have a US-style of legislature and these debates have become the be all and end all of the campaign without really giving us anything new in real terms.
    There is one week left, let’s shout about our achievements and remind the voters where the country was in 1997 and where it is now.

  • richard s

    Thanks for all your help for Labour. Me and my wife still really believe in them – but they have been a terrible let down over the last five years or so. What they have proved i think is that it is somehow impossible for governments to behave well. Power does seem to corrupt.
    Ultimately though i will never vote for the nasty party – Labours instincts are the same as mine – they just seem unable to always act on them.

  • Leo

    Famed right wing outlet the New Statesman has this more balanced view which highlights GB’s negativity which seems to be your preferred approach too: ‘Brown, if we are honest, was solid, especially given the circumstances; but he was not electrifying. He appeared to do his best. But it may not have been the electrifying performance he needed. Surprisingly to some, Brown almost exclusively “went negative” in his final statement, adding to the — perhaps unfair — impression that he has a less positive, more desperate message to convey. It is a shame, some Labour activists must believe, that Brown didn’t have more to say about his vision for an exciting, progressive next term.”

  • olli issakainen

    The economy is helping Labour. And Clegg is taking votes from the Tories. The Conservatives will never accept a referendum on PR.
    Labour´s strategy after the third TV debate, which I saw on BBC World, must be to attack Cameron on his utopian ideas on “Big Society”.
    As for Labour, we have not had it yet!

  • Tim Weir

    So which ‘has had it’, Alastair, Burnley or Labour? Or both? And isn’t it annoying to think how much better TB would have been at the debates and all the bits of the campaign that required acting ability and emotional intelligence? btw your link to the BFC website doesn’t seem to be working.

  • Nick

    A.C’s now daily rant against the wicked media reminds me of the last time that Labour had an unelectable leader and was about to crash and burn in the polls. For Gordon Brown in 2010, see Michael Foot and Tony Benn in 1983.

    The fact is- and AC would admit to this in private I am sure- that Labour should never have elected Brown as its leader. He palpably lacked the qualities required. These have been cruelly exposed in this election- the partisan dividing lines, the embellished statistics, the clunking delivery (“you are a good woman”), and that gurning grin.

    Labour should have had the courage to have a genuine leadership election when Blair left. They bottled it. Now it is too late. Its time for change.

  • Alex

    Both last week and this week, radio listeners thought Gordon Brown won, which seems to indicate that style and looks triumphed over substance for TV viewers.

    BTW, I watched the whole thing and broadly agree with ACs comments.

  • Mark Wright

    The YouGov poll declaring Cameron the winner was out in SECONDS after the debate. What was their sample base? Michael Gove’s kitchen?

    GB performed exceptionally well. He put in a solid performance that kept the subject at hand centre stage.

    With his line about ‘not always getting it right’ (referring to the highly personal attacks and coverage against him in recent days) with one sentence he moved on from the silliness of some of the recent coverage and moved the agenda on to where the media should always have been in the first place. Policy and the substance, or rather lack of, of the alternatives on offer.

  • Patrick James

    In the debate Gordon Brown clearly won imho.

    I don’t think those opinion polls that are taken immediately after the debate reflect the whole story.

    After people consider the issues involved I think that the points that Gordon Brown raised will stick in their minds.

    Cameron was repeatedly ignoring very strong questions from Gordon Brown and had a very dismissive air about him. Cameron’s demeanour was saying “don’t bother me with your tedious questions little man”.

    So, Cameron’s style might impress on the night but I wonder if people will want a Prime Minister with such a high opinion of himself?


    I read in the Independent online:

    “Councils across Britain have reported an ‘unprecedented’ surge in the number of people registering to vote in next Thursday’s election.”

    It seems that the registration is up 17%.

    I don’t believe that these people have all been so inspired by David Cameron to go out and vote Conservative.

    Maybe they are all Cleggmaniacs, but more likely the close nature of the election is increasing interest for every side.

    I think that huge numbers of Labour voters did not turn out in 2005 or 2001, because it was not a close contest.

    Now that we do have a close contest it is my belief that a large number of those that didn’t vote last time will vote this time.

  • judith haire

    Agree, Alastair. GB was outstanding. Canvassing in east Kent I’ve found there are still a lot of don’t knows and that’s good news for Labour. We can’t let the dastardly Tories in – only Labour know what they’re doing

  • Billy Blofeld

    Gordon didn’t lose it last night. He lost it about 18 months ago – in more ways than one.

    People switched off from Gordon long ago. The lies, the weirdness, the deceitfulness and the total lack of any plan whatsoever are all contributing factors.

    Most people are looking forward to May 7th with a sense of release. That is release from the nightmare of waking and up and going to sleep still cursing Gordon Brown’s name.

  • Kayode Olatuyi

    I was frustrated watching the debates last night. Frustrated because GB only managed to maintain the same level of success he achieved in the second debate. Yet he had the arsenal required to torpedo the style merchants. But something went wrong with the crafting of GB’s presentation. I feel he was unable to translate his passion for people, policy and politics into words that convince and compel. Successful selling is no longer about the quality of the product; it is in presentation as well. It should not be able style, but obviously, in the world that we live in, style do matter.
    If the ‘pundits’ and the body language ‘experts’ were to believed, the election has been signed, sealed and waiting to be delivered to DC. But I believe there are some surprises around the corner.

  • simon

    Another thoughtful blog from Alastair building on yesterday’s. I too am tribal but it is a binding loyalty that has been built up over many years – in my youth I don’t think I would have recognised the depth and breadth and substance of the Labour government’s achievements so process, ideology and ‘style’ (whatever that is!) were more important. I started listening to the debate on the
    radio and was incensed when Cameron namechecked the Corus business leader on his support for his NI policy.

    Let’s get real here – the Corus CEO is an American/Australian with two year’s experience of the European economy during which time he has stopped steelmaking in the North East, made more than 25% of the UK workforce redundant and ‘lost’ the whole of his UK and European operations and commercial executive . He has no loyalty to UK or Netherlands but to his bosses in Mumbai, refusing to attend Select Committee hearings but preferring air travel to Mumbai for a board meeting rather than using state-of-the-art VideoConferencing equipment.

    I well remember the day after 1992 election and the tears in the steel villages of East Cleveland as families came to terms with the prospect of another five years of the Tories. I also remember the joy when Ashok Kumar was elected in 1997 and the sadness when I heard of his premature death overworking to the end trying to secure a future for Teesside iron and steelmaking.

    For the next five days please can we focus on the positive achievements of the last 13 years – schools, hospitals, minimum wage, fair taxes and benefits, consensual international leadership on the tough questions of environment and terror.

  • Jamie

    I dont know if im missing something but i feel GB has done well in all 3, especially the last 2 and in my eyes Cameron has finished last in all 3 and im not say that because i dislike him, for me i just dont believe him as if there is a catch somewhere but with GB i believe him and trust him, ok he looks awkward and not great at presentation but i like him and im far more interested in someone who is good at being Prime Minister than some Eton spiv who loves the cameras just as much as he loves himself

  • Alex Y

    Despite being a lifelong Labour supporter I do think that things are not right and that the last parliament has not seen Labour in the best light. The handling of the economy and the global recession has been strong and the general ideology that has been followed is the correct one in my opinion but there have been too many own-goals and internal battles that have caused embarrassment (the 10% tax debacle still causes me to shiver). Having said that I still believe that despite the slicker presentation from the other parties when you scratch the surface there is only one choice to see us through the recession and to protect the social framework of the country.

    The Tory Big Society is a shambles of a policy that can’t be explained even by Cameron. If I read it correctly they are giving us the rights to decide more for ourselves such as vetoing council tax rises, setting-up our own schools and generally letting us get on with it ourselves. This sounds great for that split second until you remember that there are other people in society other than your immediate family and friends and that surely – particularly as we come out of a recession – we all better served when together and when people are not trying to drive a wedge between communities. Focussing on the education policy isn’t the Labour approach to invest in seeking improvement in failing schools that should ultimately make things better for all of the community and for all of the children attending that school? The Tory approach is for a subset of parents to stick their fingers up to the rest and to divert money to make a school for their children and leave the rest floundering in a school that is not only failing but now has less money to improve.

    The LibDems are beginning to bore now. The more whacky policies are being exposed and the “we are different” line is looking very thin particularly as we know that by this time next week Clegg will more than likely be jetisoning a fair few of these beliefs and his “new way” message in order to jump into bed with one of the other two for the sake of a sniff of power.

    In the last week Labour need to do more than constantly snipe at the opposition. Brown did too much of that last night. They need to calmly remind people of the positives of the last 13 years; they need to demonstrate that their policies are more than skin-deep and they need to major on the fact that society needs to stick together at a time like this and that government needs to step-up and not step-back.

    Someone also needs to stop Brown giving us that creepy smile – it scares my dog!

  • Tom Mailey

    I fear this country is so X-Factored, that I was waiting for Simon Cowal and Andrew Lloyd-Webber to give us their analysis of the debates. I dismay at how this counry has truly lost its moral way in being easily influenced by the so-right wing media drivel. Gordon had no chance of getting any credit at all in any of these debates by the media. Sky is a joke. Look at America, got a cool chap in a suit, stood up and said all the right things that the gullible wanted to hear. Now when he is in office, it’s not so easy. If I wake up on Friday morning with gord help us a Tory government then say goodbye to any silver we had left. This will make the sequel of Maggie’s government look like Disaster The Movie 2. Can you imagine David Conman and George Out-of-his-head being taken seriously at world meetings? They will be shown they are way out of their depth. The big money men will be ruinning (sorry running) the country and rubbing their grubby little hands they got what they wanted TOTAL POWER! Wake up people IT’S NOT TOO LATE!!!!

  • Wake up and smell the roses

    Unbelievable – its as if the majority of commentators on these pages have been living in a different country for the last three years. GB and his bunch of disloyal ‘comrades’ have driven this country into the dirt all the while hiding behind the ‘Global Financial Meltdown’ that they were a big part of causing. Get real and accept that Labours current spell is over. I’ll leave it to you to decide who’s better or worse for the country moving forward but I know where my vote is going.

  • Nicky

    I find these polls very suspect as well. I read somewhere that the whole point of polls is not to reflect public opinion, but to actually influence it.

    However, Cameron is in trouble because, despite all the might of the right wing media and Lord Cashcroft, undecided voters still don’t warm to him or find him particularly inspiring. To combat this failure, over the past couple of years the media have been doing total overdrive character assassination of Brown. The public are now bored by hearing how bad Brown is supposed to be. Many of us recognise the media’s portrayal of Brown as the utter travesty that it is.

    Clegg of course threw a spanner in the media’s works, by overtaking Cameron in the Not Gordon beauty contest. Particularly damaging for Cameron, during the debates, was Clegg’s criticisms of DC’s policies. For many viewers, who may be less inclined to listen to GB, Clegg’s criticisms may have given them pause for thought. Cameron, used to dismissing Brown, looked particularly uncomfortable when the criticism was coming from Clegg.

  • Shibley

    RT @oliverburkeman: Interesting near-unanimity from US commentators & friends in US that Brown won debate. A post-elec job market beckons #leadersdebate

  • Mark

    If you really want to know who “won” the debate, you just have to look at the faces of the Tories after the debate. Before the first poll result came along to give them a little help, they were all looking sick….. They knew that Cameron had not answered lots of questions and that he was in real difficulty. All that he could do was spit out prepared lines.

  • IcecoldAlex

    Straight out of Brass Eye:

    “Gordon won the debate. Now that is scientific fact — there’s no real evidence for it — but it is scientific fact”

  • Joe Public

    You must be watching a different debate. Cameron wiped the floor with your tired old has been. I know you are the arch spinner but get real and have some sense of credibility.

  • David Hazell
    LOOK! CAMERON LOST on the WORM trail Yougovballs!

  • David Hazell

    Check the Worm results on the last leader’s debate. Cameron LOST! Please tell it like it is!

  • rosie

    According to Gary Gibbon from Channel 4, who has looked at how the pollsters operate, YouGov tend to include more prosperous voters, more broadsheet readers, older voters, likely to be slightly more Conservative and sometimes more male-dominated than the voting population as a whole.

    ComRes doesn’t weight to viewers but to the voting population profile.
    They polled people who expressed their voting preference as 35 per cent Con, 24 per cent Lab and 36 per cent Lib Dem. And here’s how those same people voted on the instant poll on who performed best in the debate: 35 per cent Cameron, 26 per cent Brown and 33 per cent Clegg.

    So, hardly unbiased, undecided swing voters. No wonder the polls decided that Cameron won, when it was obvious to anyone who watched that he slithered around, failing to answer questions, and unable to really engage in the debate. And he really, really hates it when he is questioned or contradicted!

    Sadly, even The Guardian’s Michael White called it for Cameron, posting his piece suspiciously quickly after the debate ended.

  • rosie

    SORRY!! Martin Kettle, not Michael White. SORRY!

  • Sarah Oubridge

    I’m with you Alistair – Gordon Brown was magnificent last night and the only leader to actually have a ‘live’debate. He spoke from his heart and head – it was a marvellous closing speech – wowee. You are right, we should trust our judgement and boycott the papers tomorrow – and go and celebrate the brilliance of new Labour with a small ‘n’!

  • Darby_87

    Clegg once again propelling himself into the publics face as the adopted child outraged by his short fall in pocket money compared to his legitimate siblings.

    “If this is a PR war count me out” – what resources did he have anyway? Alastair, you proved during the Gilligan conflict how spin is used more as a defence mechanism rather than a tool for fabrication, Gilligan was wrong and proved wrong – Last night the BBC confessed to some strange distraction with the entrance of Lord Mandelson coming into the spin room, such a distraction infact they missed 10 mins of the debate…I really hope the Lord of Labour isn’t casting spin as much as we are told.

    Gordon has been the PM for few years now, surely he has notable experiences that would fall short of his rivals capabilities – So why was there more focus on conflicting policy? Ask the Chancellors was a great example of “who wants to be an economist” – George Osborne failed miserably in my opinion…so why weren’t they being asked “Why on earth do you want the biggest migraine of a job in the UK” – Because the election coverage of the debates has been poor – Repetitious, Driven by Opinion Polls and more of a commercial broadcast punch and judy show……

    The scariest fact that stands relates to how important this personality competition has become in formulating government – I can’t help but see the face of David Miliband as a dramatic improvement for a campaign of this nature..compared to a man who seems to be trying to clean a car with a hammer, desperate to leave it in the best state possible.

  • peter

    Alastair, The Guardian headline today was “Cameron wins third leg”. Are you suggesting the Guardian is part of the “right-wing papers”? Your blog is pure double-speak and you are deluded – with GB at the helm, we are flogging a dead horse.
    Everyone apart from you knows that your claim that Blair was man of substance is riduculous. He was a great frontman but he was quickly forgotten because he did nothing memorable … apart from go to war in Eastern Europe, in Africa, in Iraq and Afganistan (“we probably won’t fire a shot” – nice one John R).
    Meanwhile, we spend £6m a year to protect the ex-PM.
    At least, Tony fulfilled his promise to Cherie to ban hunting so that’s something.

  • John Rowe

    Cameron wants to put a cap on non EU immigration.

    Living in his constituency I can confirm this will lead to the closure of many nursing homes in this area.

    Why ? Up to 50 per cent of these homes are staffed by non EC nationals who are prepared to except these low wages.
    Under Cameron the unwilling and the unable will end up caring for our older citizens. A recipe for Tory disaster.
    Vote Tory get the workhouse back again.

  • Allan

    LABOUR CAN WIN. Please – don’t let the Tories in. Save our Country

  • whereisdecency

    I have been really shocked at some of the things being said by the blatantly right-wing media (not only the papers)during this “presidential style” election. The whole thing is all about personalities and looks and enables the media to hang onto every look or word. It has all been so manipulated. I am genuinely very worried for this country.

  • blow to the head

    Lol what a bunch of tossers gb lost ,he lost by more than a man who lost a lot ,as baldrick would say.Your toast ,fin,ende.
    As you love heaping glowing accolades to northern folk ,and being an avid fan of northern soul can i please say how much i will enjoy playing on wednesday 5th may just for gb and Nulabor ,Mr Tony Clarke and that old floor filler
    LANDSLIDE,misery is rushing down on me,like a landslide.
    And one for you Alistair ,pack upyour bigots in your old kit bag
    bye,bye close the door to number 10 and 11 on your way out ,thanks

  • Tricky Dickie

    Just seen Gordon on Paxman…wow!
    Why oh why has he never done this before?
    The best interview I have watched with GB.
    The labour party should make it a PPB and send it out every night.
    Alistair please please tell him he does have the skills for TV if her can only just be like he was tonight.
    The breakdown of the budget deficit was genuis and clear …why oh why did he not say it before….even I understood it and I have trouble with the change from a fiver.
    I have just pulled the last of my hair out with frustration…Urghhh!
    Get him fired up set up a one to one with all the politico pundits in turn and tell him to eat them alive, dont stop until he gets to the liver and Kidneys.
    Oh and Blair should do a motivation speech to the activists then post it on Youtube.

  • Graham Jones

    24 hours after the third debate, and the tories are still deluded. What I found to be the most revealing poll, was the radio poll where GB was ahead.
    Does this mean we were fortunate to be spared the bikini section of the beauty contest last night? Of course not, it more likely means that a different and broader demographic was voting, and nothing remotely to do with seeing faces on a box. It was a live and active demographic, clearly intent on voting at this election, who were looking for some sort of confirmation on how they should vote. They got it. They weren’t sucked in by shallow tory spin. They formed their opinion based on the facts presented. This fight is far from over, and the tories will soon discover this. Their is all to play for in the marginals, and throughout the rest of the country. It’s time for the big push over the top. As AC says of the tories, “they don’t like it up ’em”. Fix bayonets.

  • Bar Bar of Oz


    As the three debates unfolded it was Nick Clegg who was consistently making his case fron 1st principles. Again, reminiscent of TB. His measured, realistic immigration proposals were stark contrast to Cameron and Brown’s racist dog whistling. The low point was when Brown joined Cameron in piling on Clegg on the 10 year amnesty issue. Disgraceful. More than anything it showed how UK Labour has abdicated its leadership of change and reform since TB’s departure.

    The BBC worm showed Clegg winning on the immigration issue and generally throughout the debate. Whatever happens in the election, Clegg is going to be a national figure and true leader of progressive reform in the next Parliament. More power to him.

  • alan evans

    Cambell’s gaff – 1st debate – closing – “FEAR OF THE CONSERVATIVES” — Means memories — To me – 15 percent interest — Bankrupt inlaws from BROKEN companies living with my small family in my small house because they were homeless ( reposessed ) — London coppers shipped up north to beat up lefties — And more much more — What would 15 percent interest mean in todays housing market — Sometimes I feel that Mr. Brown does not understand an ordinary man’s fears of the conservative party — These are not bigotted opinions —

  • Gillie BC

    I am disappointed in the newspapers in their almost total opposition to GB & the Labour Party. How about Alastair Darling getting more involved in the campaign. He is after all, as one newspaper said, a safe pair of eyebrows! He comes accross as competent & trustworthy.

    This election is all about the economy. So come on Alastair D. get out there and communicate with the voters.

  • s chapman

    Alastair – it just gets better and better and better – now those weasels at the Guardian have deserted you as well…you should have taken notice and ditched the bigotgate man and re-invented new labour in opposition now your demise is complete.
    PS The lady from ITV got it last night from you and i thought you were even more objectionable,arrogant and rude than normal -on national TV “i dont give a damn about your polls ” you child..having a hissy fit,at least be graceful in defeat….

  • Roger Murray

    I fail to see how AC can call himself “a strategist” if he thinks GB won the debate. Sorry AC its not just the right-wing papers as you obsessively believe that think Brown is out. This has been the most disastrous, hollow and deeply cynical election campaign by any political party I have viewed in my lifetime (I was born in 1949).
    GB claimed to have abolished Tory boom and bust- based on articially lo-inflation from imports produced by cheap Chinese labour, deliberate promtion of borrowing by the individual and state. Labour’s record on civil liberties is despicable, its attempts at social engineering the genuine problem of poverty and expensive charade. And this is the party you still want to raise money for. And just to cap it all your latest arrogant outburst last night on TV in the pathetic “spin room” “I don’t care about your poll” just about sums up why Labour has lost its soul as well as assuredly the election.

  • Officialview

    Campbell proved right: Guardian has declared for Lib Dems and is now part of Liberalite-Centre Rightist conspiracy. Only Mirror can now be trusted to declare the correct winner.

  • Martin

    How can Sky News aka the “Conservative channel” be still classed as a privately owned yet public broadcaster? Why do politicians other than conservative ones, still feel obliged to go on there and give interviews, or give them the time of day? I remember Barack Obama having the same problem during his election campaign with Fox news ,regarding their right-wing bias. Maybe after this election Ofcom should have a look into it. All this balls about been fair and balanced! It is a conservative party mouthpiece which passes under the pretext of been a mainstream yet private broadcaster. Does the certain individual who owns this organistaion actually pay tax here? Is that certain individual even a UK citizen? And no I’m not a Labour party member, I’m just a member of the general public who likes things fair and balanced.

  • aloogobi

    totally agree alastair – im not labour tribalist but though GB won last debate by mile though was a bit negative – was completely flummoxed by the polls but now I understand…..