Bienvenues des Francaises!

After the debate, I was tickled to see my hit counter had gone bananas today. What on earth happened? – I wondered. It turned out that dear old Le Monde had linked to my Bigotgate post. Bless them:

Incident démocratique Grâce au “Bigotgate” on va enfin pouvoir discuter (Liberal Burblings)

Le blog Liberal Burblings se moque de la campagne telle qu’elle a été dépeinte jusqu’à l’incident du “Bigotgate”. Il décrit les directs interminables où l’on voit Gordon Brown demander aux gens ce qu’ils achètent au supermarché. Réponse ? “De la nourriture.” Edifiant. “Rien de démocratique dans tout ça”, écrit Liberal Burblings. Et puis voilà soudain Mme Duffy et “enfin une vraie interaction”, souffle le blog.


Liveblogging the #leadersdebate

I will be live blogging the leaders debate here.

6:21:41 PM: It is good that the pressure is on Brown tonight, rather than Clegg, as per last week. #leadersdebate
7:43:53 PM: Liveblogging the #leadersdebate

7:56:04 PM: Expecting Cameron to make great play of immigration #leadersdebate

8:56:04 PM: Expecting Cameron to make great play of immigration #leadersdebate

9:04:44 PM: Once again, in the interests of research (of course ;-)), I will be listening to part of the debate on the radio. #leadersdebate

9:19:05 PM: Brown has an odd knack of doing better in times of crisis. Its on the easy things he seems to struggle.-AlainSucrose

9:30:37 PM: Ooh I could crush a grape #leadersdebate

9:34:24 PM: Excellent opening statement from Clegg #leadersdebate

9:35:52 PM: Nerves showing with a stammer each from Cameron and Brown in the opening statements #leadersdebate

9:36:24 PM: 11th word from Cameron was “change” – someone has just won the Channel Four sweepstake #leadersdebate

9:36:44 PM: Excellent set – very impressive – well done BBC #leadersdebate

9:37:37 PM: Brown still can’t get his eyelines right.We should allow for his disability- but is it that difficult to look at a red light? #leadersdebate

9:39:09 PM: Clegg already ahead 45% in C4 poll – Cam 15, Brown 35 #leadersdebate

9:39:48 PM: Excellent point from Clegg about the coming together of parties to decide on deficit reduction #leadersdebate

9:40:32 PM: Good point from Borwn. £6 billion cut now would be insane #leadersdebate

9:41:01 PM: Loads of Tory councils send out glossy leaflets!!! #leadersdebate

9:42:35 PM: Clegg well on top in Guardian rolling poll #leadersdebate

9:43:29 PM: Excellent passion from Clegg #leadersdebate

9:45:10 PM: ‘Save government waste’. Cameron – that means less jobs in the public sector #leadersdebate

9:45:38 PM: Clegg is doing brilliantly #leadersdebate

9:59:36 PM: Cameron was completely outwitted on inheritance tax. He avoidf answering the point repeatedly #leadersdebate

10:01:00 PM: Cameron took a major hit on inheritance tax and fairness #leadersdebate

10:02:28 PM: Cameron seems too interested in point scoring #leadersdebate

10:04:52 PM: This is a brilliant debate #leadersdebate

10:10:55 PM: Cameron’s face seems to be melting – even on the radio #leadersdebate

10:10:55 PM: Cameron’s face seems to be melting – even on the radio #leadersdebate

10:16:21 PM: Is it me or has it got a bit boring #leadersdebate

10:20:21 PM: I do hope that #bigotgate won’t lead to the bovinisation of the lmmigration debate #leadersdebate

10:23:26 PM: Does dumblebore really have to repeat the question for the third time? #leadersdebate

10:25:18 PM: So cameron comes back for another pasting on the ‘amnesty’ #leadersdebate

10:27:56 PM: Clegg deals brilliantly with cameron on ‘amnesty’ #leadersdebate

10:34:34 PM: Watch the Leaders’ debate LIVE here

10:42:46 PM: The Tories had the toughest minister, Peter Lilley, in charge of benefits and even he didn’t do what Cameron is on about

10:45:06 PM: Brown was obviously coached to say “It’s the same old Tories” 4,599 times #leadersdebate

10:48:08 PM: Channel 4 poll: Clegg 42, Brown 43, Brown 14 #leadersdebate

10:48:37 PM: Cameron is so vacuous #leadersdebate

10:51:52 PM: Cameron wheels out the pre-baked cack #leadersdebate

10:52:28 PM: Phonics? That’s really hands-off government isn’t it? #leadersdebate

10:56:40 PM: YouGov say Cameron won …only joking

10:57:54 PM: Cameron’s big themes seem to change on a daily basis. Now it’s the vulnerable all of a sudden #leadersdebate

11:00:32 PM: Brown makes some good points against Cameron in his closing statement #leadersdebate

11:15:02 PM: Unbelievable spin from Mandelson #leadersdebate

#bigotgate – Seminal moment or fuss and nonsense?

I suspect it is a seminal moment.

I know when something has hit a nerve of the national psyche when I receive three calls from non-political friends in two minutes, gleefully telling me of the newsflash. I was just getting into the shower at the gym when I took one of them…I know – too much information.

Talking of the gym, all this week I have watched there endless Sky and BBC News 24 live coverage of Brown going round supermarkets and streets. The coverage has been all the same. Gordie smiling beatifically, Sarah right by his side, lovely friendly remarks to surprised passers-by or shoppers:

Brown: “Lovely to see you….What are you buying?” Man in Asda: “Er…food” was one exchange in the fresh vegetables section of Bournemouth Asda.

Brown: “Oh”…pointing to a number on a rugby shirt on another shopper…”Do you play rugby?” Guy: “Yes”. Brown: “You must be fit” – flexing his (Brown’s) arm muscles to show what being fit must be like.

….You know the sort of thing. Very boring. Very stage-managed. Lots of security folks. No chance of anything democratic happening like a confrontation. It’s all just “Grateful citizens meet their PM” stuff.

So thank goodness Gillian Duffy had a go at him. At last some real interchange with the populace.

So, Brown was caught out with his radio mike on. He’s obviously never watched “Naked Gun”.

Basic mistake. Lesson one in broadcast training: “If you’re within a mile of a microphone – assume it’s on and it can pick you up”.

Unfortunately for Brown, this is the sort of incident that catches the public’s imagination. PM asking what someone is buying in the Asda vegetables section doesn’t catch Jo Public’s imagination. PM caught with trousers down does.

But it also plays into: Tired PM, Tired government, Angry PM, bullying PM, PM without common touch narratives.

So really, this is the end of Gordon Brown’s Prime Ministerial career. He can’t make it back from here. The Labour polling will be 3 points down tomorrow.

Hard cheese Gordie!

Oh…you ask about the issues. Ah yes. The economy. Health. Education. Cleaning up politics. That sort of thing. Errr…..crikey. I’d forgotten about them.

UPDATE: Bit of a mistake for Gordie to let himself be video’d talking to Jeremy Vine with his head in his hands. Gordie ought to ask John Major what happened to him when he smoothed his hair in his hands before speaking at the City of London dinner. That image will haunt Gordie forever more, I am afraid.

A very good case for Tom Bradby to be added to the Slapometer

That’s this Slapometer.

Well, for goodness sake, just read this unmitigated pig manure:

…the beauty of the first past the post system is that it gives voters a direct link with their MP. If you don’t like him, or her, you can sling him out, regardless of national swing or anything else. If you want him to vote against a particular issue (the Iraq War, say) you can lobby him to do so. The idea that our response to the expenses system should be to break this link and create a new class of MPs who are shoved in on a party list and owe no allegiance to anyone but their party leader is somewhat bizarre.

After reading this, I had to check what I was reading. Hello? Which “Tom Bradby” is this the “blog” of? Is this some knee-jerk, ignorant right-wing ranting blogger who couldn’t give a monkey’s about the facts writing a little hobby blog? Some punter with a PC and a £4.99 a month dial-up connection who just happens to have the same name as the leading political correspondent on the nation’s leading commercial broadcaster?

It can’t, surely, actually be the actual blog of the leading political correspondent of the nation’s leading commercial broadcaster, can it? I mean, the actual Tom Bradby, as opposed to a ‘Tom Bradby’?

Good grief! It actually is the actual, genuine blog of the actual Tom Bradby.

What came over him? This respected journalist wrote the above paragraph. Ranting polemic based on total, mind-blowing ignorance. And it says “BRINGING FACTS TO LIFE” at the top of his blog, in big letters. Crikey! Bringing ignorant, lazy assumption to life, more like.

Before writing that Grade One Cack, would it have been too much to ask for Tom Bradby to click his laptop twice to read the Electoral Reform web site?:

Single Transferable Vote

No electoral system is perfect. Some, however, are more perfect than others.

We believe that where candidates are being elected to multiple vacancies, STV offers voters the best and most effective choice.

What is STV?

STV uses preferential voting in multi-member constituencies. Each voter gets one vote, which can transfer from their first-preference to their second-preference and so on, as necessary…

Oh look Tom. There it is in one sentence. Note the word “candidates”. It doesn’t say “parties” or “party lists” or “party names” but “candidates”. You can have a system which allows voters the utmost choice of candidate – yes a candidate – not a party list. And you have multi-member constituencies. Yes, just like most of the country who have multiple councillors in their ward. Yes, Tom. So people know who their representatives are and can nail them. But, even better, they have a choice of who to nail.
Is it too much to ask to have a little bit of research done by the chief political correspondent from our leading commercial broadcaster?

A day for LibDems to be really proud

It is fascinating that the Murdoch media tempered their enthusiasm for Cameron in their ‘later editions’. At first, Sky’s YouGov poll, declared suspiciously soon after the debate, proclaimed Cameron the winner and the Times’ first editions went with “Cameron nicks it“.

This was after the Sky broadcast of the debate showed obvous signs of pro-Cam/anti-Clegg slight bias, noted by many tweeters: Boulton interrupted Clegg several times, but not Cameron plus long lingering camera shots of Cameron.

Perhaps old Rupie rang up at about midnight and said “Make it ‘neck and neck'”. And so it was. The Times changed their headline to “Neck and Neck”, and so did Sky online “Clegg and Cameron neck and neck”.

However, let’s bear in mind that ComRes, ICM and Angus Reid gave Clegg as the winner and only YouGov and Populus gave Cameron as the winner.

I can now do a reality check.

Really I just laughed when I read that Clegg was nearly as popular as Churchill last Sunday. It was just unreal -the foam on the top of a cappucinno and I knew it wouldn’t last. So I didn’t go off on one about it.

But now, I think we saw yesterday a real solid achievement from Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. Really grown up stuff.

Let’s remember that Nick Robinson of the BBC has confirmed that the Tory leadership pulled in their right wing press friends one by one and tipped them off on their juiciest LibDem smear stories. And so Clegg had it with four barrels of the Tory press yesterday. Most interesting was the Benedict Brogan-led Telegraph. Brogan is a cross between a self-appointed saint and an overly anally retentive six former with loads of pens arranged in strict colour order in his outside jacket top pocket. His story about Nick Clegg yesterday was just ridiculous. Registered donors gave registered donations to a registered employer. By the end of the day Nick Clegg published his bank account statements which showed that (according to Nick Robinson): 

Mr Clegg received payments totalling £19,690 from three businessmen (Neil Sherlock, Michael Young, Ian Wright) and then paid staff costs of £20,437.30 out of the same account. According to these figures, Mr Clegg actually paid £747.30 out of his own money towards staff costs.

Stuff that in your top jacket pocket Brogan! And the Telegraph banner headline (“Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem donors and payments into his private account”) made it seem like some sort of Italian-type political bribe scandal. Bar stewards!

So Clegg survived all that and then came out top in the debate in 3/5 polls, after Cameron and Brown fired their best shots at him and after he brilliantly defended immigration and Trident policy – the two issues which the Tories had most pressed about the LibDems.

So I think we have now bottomed out, to a certain extent. The froth has cleared from the top of the cappucinno. So now I am allowing myself to be really proud of Nick Clegg and the LibDems. We have got through all that and we are now at 28% on the YouGov tracker. If you had told me last Monday that we would jump to 28% after months at 18%, I would have been ecstatic. And in fact, I am now.

Live blogging the #leadersdebate

Timings are + an hour for some reason. Sorry.

8:29:04 PM: I’ll be live blogging the #leadersdebate via Tweet here and accumulated blog here:

8:34:08 PM: Slapometer latest: Brown 54%, Cameron 33%, Clegg 13%

8:39:45 PM: @mytimezoneis Europe/London

8:41:45 PM: “We want change but not in Euros” – snappy little Cameron line found on leaked notes RT@davidschnieder

8:44:06 PM: Live blogging the #leadersdebate

8:57:10 PM: This lasagne is too good to rush – #leadersdebate or #noleadersdebate

9:02:28 PM: Count Brown out if it’s about style, he says – standing their with the most impressive make-up job I’ve seen him wearing #leadersdebate

9:10:46 PM: Very powerful point from Clegg on opeartion koala #leadersdebate

9:11:37 PM: Is it me or is Cameron sounding even posher tonight? #leadersdebate

9:12:24 PM: Excellent point by Clegg on LIsbon treaty – kiboshed Cameron #leadersdebate

9:13:08 PM: Glad someone mentioned extremists and Cameron #leadersdebate

9:13:56 PM: Go NIck! #leadersdebate

9:14:23 PM: Oh come off it Brown – squabbling at bathtime #leadersdebate

9:14:48 PM: Nick Anti-american? Bovine scatology #leadersdebate

9:15:15 PM: Brown has a sort of old world charm tonight – he has nothing to lose I suppose #leadersdebate

9:21:19 PM: Quite a lot of hesitation from Brown on the Somali question #leadersdebate

9:21:52 PM: Cameron went for a run this morning. See what he did there. Slipped that in – CLUNK CLUNK #leadersdebate

9:24:48 PM: Another gift to Clegg from Cameron on Trident, Cameron walks into these doesn’t he? #leadersdebate

9:25:19 PM: Clegg very clear and passionate on Trident

9:25:41 PM: Nonsense from Brown on Iran #leadersdebate

9:26:53 PM: Strange that we ended up on Trident on a question about terrorist activity #leadersdebate

9:27:31 PM: Brown has lost it – nattering on about solar panels like a cuddly uncle #leadersdebate

9:28:06 PM: Oh good Lord – I think that may have been an attempt at wit by Cameron #leadersdebate

9:29:47 PM: Channel 4 live poll Clegg 52% Brown 36% Cameron 12% #leadersdebate

9:33:43 PM: Don’t like the set – too bitty. Channel 4 Ask the Chancellors holds the set prize so far #leadersdebate

9:35:13 PM: Absolutely irrelevant point by Cameron on LIsbon treaty/climate change #leadersdebate

9:35:51 PM: Lisbon treaty was a reforming treaty – it had nothing to do with climate change – utter rubbish by Cameron #leadersdebate

9:36:42 PM: I feel sorry for anyone who falls for Cameron’s line on his extremist partners.

9:38:18 PM: Channel 4 poll, Clegg up to 67% now – Brown on 24% – Cameron down to 9%! #leadersdebate

9:39:27 PM: Clegg very sound on the Catholic paedophile issue #leadersdebate

9:44:38 PM: Clegg is even ahead in the Times live poll – which Cameron led last time #leadersdebate

9:47:39 PM: Clegg brilliantly brushed away the Telegraph point from Boulton #leadersdebate

9:50:43 PM: Cameron’s big society pitch is a complete cop-out. He doesn’t have any policies so he fills in thegap with that

9:51:13 PM: CLegg is on a roll with safe seats

9:56:47 PM: Cameron has leapt ahead on the Slapometer 43% want to slap him right now – Brown 34%, Clegg 23% #leadersdebate

9:59:13 PM: Bus and rail firm Arriva agrees to takeover. For goodness sake swicth off the tickertape Sky you dingbats! #leadersdebate

9:59:57 PM: Nitwit Cameron – it’s always a mistake to mention an attack – because subliminally you just confirm it in people’s minds #leadersdebate

10:08:34 PM: @jjacollins yes but he has precious little policy to change it and instead wants the public to fill the gaping hole. It’s a cop-out
10:09:56 PM: I love the way Clegg has obviously convinced the questioner! #leadersdebate

10:12:13 PM: Channel 4 live poll now Clegg 50, Brown 30, Cameron 19 #leadersdebate

10:13:15 PM: Brown wins on folksiness #leadersdebate

10:14:08 PM: Enough on the bloody jobs tax already Cameron – it’s a .5% rise! #leadersdebate

10:15:20 PM: Brown completely fails to address the Clegg banks point.It’s not about smallness. It’s about investment v high street banking #leadersdebate