Vince has got his mojo back, and some…..
OK, lets be honest, “Ask The Chancellors“, was little more than a supporting bout ahead of the main show – the leaders debate. A useful rehearsal for all three parties and a way for Channel 4 to get a slice of the TV political debate “action”.
But given all that, it is hard to see how Vince could have done much better…
Am I the only one who thinks that this ups the pressure on Nick for “the main event”?
It seems pretty clear that Vince was THE man last night. I say that not as a Lib Dem. That seems to be the consensus. New Statesmen “Cable Triumphs” , Channel 4 “Cable wins” and “Cable impresses” and “Cable is public’s choice for chancellor” , Guardian “Vince Cable draws first blood in battle of the chancellors” , Reuters “”Third man” stars in TV election debate” , and so on…..
Of course there were dissenters – e.g. Quentin Letts over at the Daily Mail tells us “I resist the cult of Vince the wizened seer” – but as Daisy McAndrew tweeted at the time “Audience pretty much unanimous cable won, hacks too privately, but many sticking to party lines in their copy“.
And Vince had some things in his favour. Was it accident or design that as we looked at the screen, Darling was on the left, Osborne on the right and, well Vince in the middle (always the best place to be).
He is also built for this kind of show. He is has a confident, school masterly air about him, is always across his facts and has, as he shows at his occasional appearances on PMQ’s an undeniable gift for witty one liners – which endears him to any audience no matter how cynical.
People can, and have said, that Vince can say what he likes as the Lib Dems don’t have any chance of getting into power. That might have been an easy stick to beat the Lib Dems with before, but with the polls refusing to shift far away from “hung parliament” territory, that’s an argument that’s much harder to make right now. I very much doubt that Vince will actually end up in no11 – but how much money would I give to hear Cameron try to rationalise to the public why Osborne should have the keys over Cable….
No. Vince did not win last night because his policies don’t stand a chance of being implemented. Vince won because he is clearly a man who knows what he is talking about, he was more honest about the cuts, more specific about where they will come from, more direct in answering the questions, and more authoritative whilst being warmer and funnier than the other two (you gotta feel for the other two guys really).
But what can we learn from this that will inform the leaders debates? Much will be outside of the leaders control – the order in which you stand, how much public interaction there will be etc…
But some things are clearly in your gift…e.g. Get your make up sorted.George Osborne looked pale bordering on vampiric. Try very hard not to nod all the time when your opposite number is speaking. George (again!) was like a nodding dog most of the time – nerves maybe – but do try to keep the head still. Oh and answer the damned question!! You might think you got away with it on the night. But I have spent a morning listening to various phone-ins observe the fact that Vince seemed much more willing than the other two to address the question put – not some question they might have liked to have been asked.
We can’t and shouldn’t expect Nick to mimic Vince’s naturally comedic timing or instinctive turn of phrase. You either got it or you ain’t – and there is nothing worse than a joke falling flat, or a one liner – that you then have to explain……oh dear no.
But Nick CAN do the honest thing. He can do the “sound of reason” thing. He can do the passionate thing. And he can answer the questions. He can and must be prescriptive in his recipe for change, he can and must be bold about the need for cuts, he can and must speak with authority on parliamentary reform…
Vince will be a hard act to follow…It’s do-able …but my word it wont be easy.