The political pages of the Saturday and Sunday papers were devoted to the analysis of Thursday’s television debate, which involved all the party leaders. The truth is that the columnists have little else to say: so far everything has been entirely predictable and there is no movement to report.
The debate itself was a mess with no time for any serious challenge or discussion of the issues. However the universal opinion runs as follows: Ed Miliband stood up well to David Cameron (which is good news for Labour); Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party has emerged as a powerful player (which is bad news for Labour); Nigel Farage of Ukip is a polarizing figure (no surprises here). The Welsh Nationalists and the Green Leaders are somewhat ineffectual. It is unlikely that this will change any votes in North Norfolk.
If there was a loser in the debate it was generally thought to be the LibDem leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. I find it difficult to judge since his broken promise on the abolition of student fees is what propelled me back into active politics. He again apologised for this during the debate, but it is too late. This was a firm commitment and if he had been sincere would have been a non-negotiable part of the coalition agreement.
This last weekend my son took my grandson to his first ever football game at Arsenal, the side he has supported since his own childhood. Arsenal won and an opposing player was sent off with a red card. My grandson related this to us in the following terms: “he was naughty and didn’t say sorry so he was made to go home”. I suspect that this fate awaits Nick Clegg.