The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

The Knives Are Out

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 22, 2010 @ 10:11

Adam Boulton looked like an onion even then. Just slightly browner on top.

Today’s handful of newspaper front pages (as seen here) show that the media have had enough of the Clegg love in. What surprises me is why it took so long…

The groundwork is clearly being laid for an assault on everything to do with the Lib Dems. The fact that the Telegraph was desperate enough to go back into its expenses CD demonstrates that fully. And yet, this little gem was about the best they could do. A few hundred pounds per month from a few private donors, all fully declared.

Desperate stuff. And, if it’s played wrongly, could easily be used by the Lib Dems as a sign of how the “establishment” from the “old politics” is ganging up on them. Mr Cameron’s friends, Mr Murdoch, and Alistair Campbell’s old boys all getting their favours called in by their masters in order to preserve the corrupt and cozy establishment which is feeling threatened by the surge of the wave of change heading its way.

I should be a political strategist. That one’s for you, Nick, and I hope you use it well. No charge, this time.

So bollocks to the media and their “have become the subject of intense scrutiny” lies, as if they are the neutral third parties bravely reporting the scrutiny of others.

And bollocks to the other parties too.

But I think they’re going to be much more clever.

Amidst the endless obsession with some volcanic ash, you may not have realised that tonight is the second Prime Ministerial Debate. Another 90 minutes of fun is headed our way.

Will Brown and Cameron get the knives out for Clegg?

They can’t. Only one of them will be able to. If they both do, Clegg will once more play the blinder he did last week: indict them all in an establishment conspiracy.

But which will go first? Whoever gets the luck of starting will surely make it clear from the outset that Clegg is not the change the country needs, and then yadda-yadda about a “dangerous” plan to scrap Trident, and a love for all things European.

Cameron has to attack, to rescue his damaged reputation from last week. He has to rescue his severely dented image, which last week was exposed by him standing there, absorbing all attacks and not dishing any out. His authority took a knock. He will be out to correct that.

Brown, instead, will throw in some sly digs at Clegg, which may be more successful. After all, he won’t want to get his hands too dirty in the mud-slinging. He will want to look… well, Prime Ministerial. And if Clegg overreacts by playing the establishment conspiracy hand too early, especially if Brown isn’t explicit or is very polite about it, it might weaken his standing as a level-headed, composed leader.

There are severe dangers for a front runner: all the focus is on you, and you have to live up to those expectations. It’s why David Cameron struggled so much last week.

But fortune is on Clegg’s side. The debate topic: international affairs, so the silly media agenda on expenses is out of order. Opportunity: Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Strengths: Blair and Brown’s performances at Chilcot; a debate format that will only allow broad questions; Adam Boulton as moderator will not be able to further media agendas; and Cameron and Brown cannot ask questions of Clegg either

Clegg showed his skill as an underdog last week. Brown has been trying it for weeks, to some degrees of success, but hit his glass ceiling.

If Clegg can show he’s comfortable: by rising above the other two, by sticking up for his point of view, and by once more showing how different he’ll be, and giving another confident, calm performance, he will once more persuade viewers that he’s got what it takes. There’ll be no fireworks, but there’s no need for it. The good work has already been done.

Remember the Obama lesson: the first debate proved he was no bogey-man, but a sober, thoughtful, rational individual. The other two debates did nothing to change that narrative, and the more people looked, the more they liked.

The moral of the story: more of the same please, Nick. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

2 Responses to “The Knives Are Out”

  1. Peter Reynolds said

    It’s a pity that Dermot O’Leary’s interviews haven’t had the same attention. Both Cameron and Clegg came across very well last night.

    I could almost (but not quite) be in that category of “if I thought they could win I might vote for them”.

    I think Clegg will win again tonight.

    The thing I’m really terrified of is that the swing to Clegg will let Brown back in.

  2. […] their pathetic attempts to bring him down to their level, and rise above it. That’s what I suggested yesterday, and I think that’s borne out […]

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