Tag Archives: clegg

A look at the second leader’s debate

22 Apr

It’s here, the much-anticipated second leader’s debate. What will happen? Will Clegg triumph again? Will Brown again posture towards the Lib-Dems or will he try to go it alone? Will Cameron finally bring up his Big Society policy, even though it has nothing to do with foreign affairs, the topic for the second debate?

Below is a brief synopsis of how I think it will go for each leader.

Nick Clegg

His star is shining bright, so there will be sky high expectations of him. Unfortunately, foreign affairs is probably the Lib-Dems worst subject. Clegg has flip-flopped on the Euro issue and now says taking on the Euro would be a mistake, but at the same time, it is there in black and white in the Lib-Dem manifesto that one day the UK should accept the Euro. Essentially, the Lib-Dems love Europe, especially Clegg. This isn’t necessarily going to go down well with some swing voters, but the question is, how many of these people are actually going to vote for the Lib-Dems anyway?

Clegg is also in an interesting position as expectations are high. Brown and especially Cameron are going to try to ground him. But all Clegg has to do is misquote Reagan again and again – “There they go again” in response to the two bigger parties’ attacks. He probably doesn’t need to answer a question other than make everyone feel sorry for the little guy. I feel this is the best option, because going on the attack and trying to be equal to Labour and the Tories on foreign policy is a mistake – because he’d lose.

David Cameron

If Clegg is under pressure, Cameron is under just as much if not more. He has to up his game significantly from the first debate, where he forgot to mention his key domestic policies. Problem is, foreign affairs isn’t the Tories strongest subject and they have been out of power for 13 years, so their international reputation may not be as strong as they’d like it to be.

Cameron will be hit on his ‘iron clad guarantee’ for a referendum on Europe. It obviously isn’t going to happen and there are a lot of conservatives, not party members, just conservatives, who don’t trust his Europe policies. Likewise, Brown and Clegg are both going to hammer him on the Conservative’s relationships within Europe, including his Polish partners.

His promise to keep an independent DFID and legislate a 0.7% aid budget will also come under fire from ultra-conservative voters. I know many aid groups are pleasantly surprised by this, but when you can’t secure your base, it’s not the best strategy to try to out flank your opposition from the left.

Cameron is also going to mention the Iran question, but his intervention during the green revolution was reported by some as a gaffe. The UK and the USA statements focused on a “we’re watching with interest”, because they knew public support of the protestors would enable the Iranian officials to claim the unrest was caused by UK and USA intervention. However, Cameron came out and decried the lack of support from Brown to the protestors and publically stated that the protestors had the support of the UK people. This was naive foreign policy.

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown has relationships overseas, in fact believe it or not, he is very well-respected internationally, in 2009 he was voted world statesmen of the year and is respected overseas more than in the UK. This is his biggest trump card and needs to play it. This is hugely beneficial for issues such as the Tobin Tax, Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East in general. Afghanistan funding will again be a weak spot due to issues such as the numbers of helicopters etc.

He also needs to be more forceful I feel. Although he performed above expectations in the last debate, I think the Iron Chancellor needs to be on the stage. Due to the lack of audience interaction, jokes don’t necessarily play well on TV due to the silence in the studio – it makes it sound like the joke has fallen flat. Brown did well confronting Cameron on the police issues in the first debate and I thought the “it’s answer time not question time”, was effective. He needs to do it again, especially on Europe.

Brown is less pro-EU that Clegg, he keeps Europe at an arm’s length, but with an open palm, not a clenched fist. This will make voters feel more comfortable.

But he still has the image problem and that will be his biggest weakness.

All-in-all, it will be a fascinating evening and I’m looking forward to seeing the polls the next day.

cross posted with Ruder Finn Dot Comms.


Why do all three leaders have an image problem?

15 Feb

In this age of 24 hour media, spin doctors, image consultants and press advisers, it really amazes me that all three leaders have a significant image problem.

Brown is seen as distant and struggles to connect with voters. Cameron, no matter how he tries, is still seen as a toff and  smarmy (mainly because he is, credit to the public where credit is due). Clegg simply doesn’t have an image.

I thought Brown’s interview with Piers Morgan last night was very good. He seemed relaxed, witty, real and engaging. I think that the interview will pay off and hopefully will show a increasing tightening in the polls. Brown didn’t seem like the distant professor but he seemed like an average everyday man, someone you might want to have a beer with.

However, Brown said something that dumbfounded me. It was in regards to the infamous YouTube video last year. Brown said that he asked his advisers should he have another go at it because he wasn’t happy with it, but his advisers said it was fine. I’m hoping, whoever that was, has been sufficiently rebuked because they failed at the number one priority of their job – to make their boss look good. I’ve written before that I thought Brown had been getting bad advice – clearly I was right.

But are all three getting such bad advice? The Cameron poster debacle make me think his marketing team is failing as well. Cameron asked in PMQs would Labour MPs want Brown’s face on their campaigning documents, but I think some Tories are probably distancing themselves from his image now too.

Clegg is struggling to get any spotlight at the moment, but when the media will be obliged to give the Lib-Dems some column inches during the campaign, I’m sure this will change, but not my much.

So, who’s fault is it, the advisers or the candidates?

Don’t underestimate the Lib-Dems

25 Sep

By Nick Osborne

David Mitchell of Peep Show fame said on Mock the Week last night that the Liberal Democrat Conference was simply a warm up for the Labour and Conservative Conference’s in the coming weeks. Normally, from what I’ve experienced, this was probably the case, although this time I’m not so sure.

Naturally, there has been a fairly large amount of press surrounding the Lib-Dem Conference. It is after all, the first major conference in the last conference season prior to a General Election. Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Vince Cable MP has been named the most trusted politician in the UK. Nick Clegg has found his feet as Leader of the Lib-Dems and as he states he is ready to become Prime Minister. This obviously will never happen, but I predict that the Lib-Dems will play a more significant role in this election than they have played in recent ones.

All elections are fascinating, but this one will potentially benefit the Lib-Dems for a number of reasons:

1.       Increased visibility. I’m sure Nick Clegg was the first to jump at the chance of a three way debate between the leaders. Clegg has nothing to lose and everything to gain. A story on Newsnight earlier this week revolved around Barack Obama’s polling analyst looking at the upcoming election.

Via a number of focus groups he initially determined that Clegg’s biggest problem was the lack of visibility i.e. no one had heard of him or understood what he stood for. However, once they were shown footage of him speaking and discussing his policies, many of the focus group opinions changed. He was seen as likable, strong with reasonable policies. A televised debate would give him a national platform that the Lib-Dems would not have experienced for a long time.

2.       Social media. This kind of fits within the increased visibility section above, but like the other parties, the Lib-Dems are going to be able to push their policies and candidates over the web, something that hasn’t been done during a general election in the UK before. Voters will therefore be more aware than ever before.

3.       Disaffected Labour voters. The term progressive has been over used to a nauseating level in the past two weeks, but, let’s be truly honest the Lib-Dems probably have more right to the term than the Conservatives. With the Lib-Dems wanting to tax the rich via the mansion tax and out flanking Labour from the left by raising the tax-free threshold to £10,000, scrapping trident and ID Cards, angry lefties might just tick the yellow box.

4.       People who can’t bring themselves to vote for David Cameron. In the North, Cameron is still going to struggle, simply because of his Oxbridge, Etonian, Bullingdon club reputation and there will be many voters who won’t be able to bring themselves to tick the Tory box. If they don’t vote for Labour, or god forbid the BNP, the Lib-Dems might just pick up a few votes or even seats here and there.

5.       Expenses. The Lib-Dems were comparatively unscathed as an individual party, although as MPs, they were dragged through the mud with everyone else. The Lib-Dems should have done better in the Euro elections in June, but they did reasonably in the local elections so it is hard to say whether they will garner extra votes from being relatively clean.

6.       Increased voter numbers. The public is peeved with Westminster and this could either mean a record high or low turnout. If it is high, then I think the smaller parties, including the Lib-Dems will pick up a significant number of votes because they are still not seen as one of the major players, yet they are still seen as a viable protest vote destination.

No Party is doing as well as they should be. Sure, the Tories have a commanding lead in the polls and hover just above 40%, Labour mid to high twenties and Lib-Dem low twenties, high teens. That to me suggests some issues. To be clear winners, the Tories should be 45%. Labour should be higher at 30% to be in with a chance, but things will tighten as the elections looms. But the fact is, there looks like around 15% undecideds, even if you give 5% to the minor parties.

The Tories should still get it, but things aren’t as black and white as some pundits claim they are. If the election was called today, it would not take a huge percentage shift for the Tories to be presiding over a hung parliament and Ming has already stated that if the Tories won, the Lib-Dems would be compelled to work with Labour. The Tories are also clearly a tad concerned, hence David Cameron and Eric Pickles calling, slightly ridiculously, for Lib-Dem voters to come home to the Tories.

The ultimate test will be election day, but the fact is, I don’t think the Lib-Dems can necessarily be discounted. They may be a force to be reckoned with, or they might fluff it, they’ve done it before after all. But you never know, come Autumn in 2010, we could be waking up with a few extra pounds in our pockets or less, if you own a whopping great house.

Love to know your thoughts.