[bbc-news video=8616697 width=480 height=384]
All credit to Nick Clegg for braving Paxman and coming through unscathed. Tim Montgomerie is advising Dave to duck Paxman and the chances of Gordon Brown finding the courage to endure a grilling are even more remote. The bookies currently make Cameron favourite to win the TV debate and the consensus of the commentariat is that he is a superior performer in the manner of Blair. What this interview shows is that if Clegg overcomes his tendency to waffle, he is no slouch either.
Dave has everything to lose, he is ahead in the polls, expectations are high, he is the superior debater, time and time again he has bloodied Brown’s nose at PMQs. What the chancellor’s debate showed is that the guy in the middle, the LibDem, can do very well. Clegg will be accorded equal status with the major party leaders, equal billing and equal time.
Clegg’s policy of equi-distant faux-neutrality shouldn’t be allowed to survive the debate night. He needs to say clearly what his rules of engagement will be in the event of a hung parliament. Logically his party should deal with the party with the most votes, not the most seats. Since he is always telling us how unfair the first-past-the-post is, if he were to support a party with fewer votes in exchange for say, electoral reform, the voters might be entitled to think he was acting cynically out of party interest rather than reflecting the will of most of the people. The LibDems wouldn’t do that, would they?