Saturday, April 24, 2010
Style - and substance
On Thursday I watched the second Leaders' debate at a "Watch Party" at Conservative HQ with Party Chairman Eric Pickles, party staff and supporters. It was a great atmosphere, with the press conference room taking on the feel of a cinema or theatre - we even had popcorn and a vendor dispensing tubs of ice cream. After the drama of the first debate the stakes were high, so there was real tension. But once it got underway there was (as you'd expect) lots of applause and cheers for David Cameron.
The best moment, I thought, was David's challenge to Gordon Brown to withdraw the leaflets which Labour have been circulating telling pensioners that Conservatives will take away their free TV licences, winter fuel payments and so on. Those claims are lies, pure and simple, and I share the general anger that Labour have resorted to such desperate tactics, trying to scare elderly people into voting Labour. The Prime Minister's reply - that he hadn't authorised any such leaflets - was equally misleading. I hope Labour will now be shamed into stopping this tactic in Eltham too.
Overall I thought David gave a very strong performance - on style AND substance, and was glad to see from the polls afterwards that the viewing public seemed to agree. I think the novelty of Nick Clegg is wearing off as his party's policies come under scrutiny, and as people begin to realise that a vote for the Lib Dems increases the chances of a hung Parliament, and of Labour clinging onto power with Clegg's support. The only way of guaranteeing change is to vote Conservative.