All three of the TV contenders last Thursday were suffering from PMT(ension). It’s a pity they weren’t wired to electrodes, so that we could have measured the extent to which they believed they were lying, or perhaps just what their pulses were. The whole thing struck me as a slightly R.D.Laing-type exercise, as in
Gordon likes Nick because Gordon does not like Dave. Nick does not like Gordon, but he does not like Dave because Dave does not like Nick.
Carry on at will. The whole thing was not very informative, really, except that it suggests that the ‘plague-on-both-your-houses’ attitude is likely to prevail, and that Cameron is not invincible. It struck me during the debate – I have been trying to place this for a bit – who it is that Cameron reminds me of. And the answer is Pinocchio. Cameron is an inherently Disney figure. It’s not his fault that he looks like one, any more than it is that Brown looks Le Vache Qui Rit. (Clegg looks like Christopher Robin. That’s enough insults.)
It was predictable that Clegg would win. For the same reason, many football fans are hoping that Portsmouth will beat Chelsea in the FA Cup (I wonder what odds you would get on Clegg and Portsmouth both winning). He did do himself some extra favours, largely by talking to the audience and not the middle distance, and by name-checking the questioners. He also got away with being unable to think of an original phrase, once or twice, and nicking Cameron’s phrases (Cameron spoke of carers as ‘unsung heroes’ – Clegg immediately called them the ‘unsung army of heroes and heroines’. You couldn’t help thinking, though, that Blair would have wiped the floor with all of them: so it really was about style and not substance. (I also suspect that Mrs. Clegg’s comparative invisibility is actually going to help Clegg.) And Cameron’s mention of Iran and China … this was a Bush-ish moment, surely. The SNP leader, Alex Salmond, spotted immediately in a post-election comment that Cameron meant to say ‘North Korea’. But it is a blunder Cameron can’t undo, because it would become more obviously a blunder.
I am now officially accepted as an elector, meanwhile, in the Darlington constituency. I have never successfully voted Labour in a general election, so I’ll try again: it seems to me a safe seat (although the Tories did hold it in the 1990s, after winning it back from a by-election victory). I won’t therefore be obliged to vote LibDem in what seems to be the hopeless case of the new Central Devon constituency, into which my former home has been shifted since boundary changes in Devon. I would actually like the LibDems to win, too, in that I am a long-standing supporter of proportional representation – and not the Alternative Vote, which is just a means of getting the person who came second to win, and is a frankly stupid system, as dodgy as First Past The Post.
I am going to risk a prediction, which is that the LibDems will gain 101 seats, and that there will be a tie between the others. I suspect that there will be two Independents (Wyre Forest and the one in Wales), three Plaid Cymrus, one Green, and ten SNPs. And that there will be no change in Northern Ireland. I also think UKIP might nick the Speaker’s seat. I ought to say that I have never ever predicted anything but nonsense in the past, but that’s my best shot.