The chance to compete on equal terms with Labour and the Tories always looked like too good an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to miss and Liberal leader Nick Clegg took full advantage in the first of the UK’s three televised General Election debates.
And it wasn’t the economy stupid that won it for Clegg but his clear and sensible comments on other issues, such as the obvious but completely overlooked truth (by the other parties anyway) about education that “teachers should teach.”
As opposed to being snowed under with diktats from education minister Ed Balls or fending off the Tories’ daft plans to give disaffected parents the right to start their own schools.
Of course Clegg and his party will be looking anxiously at the polls to see if first impressions translate into a much-needed bounce. He’ll obviously be aware that his rivals’ heavy guns will be turned on him now so he can expect a harder time in the next two debates.
In the meantime one wonders quite where all this free prime time leaves the parties’ advertising efforts.
The only mention of them in the first debate was an obviously pre-prepared soundbite from PM Gordon Brown when he thanked Tory leader David Cameron for featuring him ‘smiling’ in Tory ads.
This, as is often the case with Brown quips, was greeted with complete incomprehension by the audience and even his opponents.
And the Tories have another problem. One of the focus group members watching the debate for the BBC observed that Cameron was all ‘me, me, me.’ As indeed he was, and a touch shifty with it.
Well the Tory Campaign, and they’re the only ones with any advertising money, is certainly all ‘Cameron, Cameron, Cameron’ when it’s not knocking Brown.
Heaven help them if they have to find another Tory to feature. George Psborne or Michael Gove anyone?