So were you one of the 9.4m people who watched last night’s televised debate, otherwise known as the First of the Summer Lies, featuring those three irascible rascals Cleggy, Campo and Gordo? It was, incredibly, the first such debate featuring the leaders of the main political parties in the UK and it attracted the night’s largest tv audience. We watched it and it wasn’t too bad. The 76 (!!) rules made it a little unatmospheric (no applause permitted, no follow-up questions etc) and the interventions of the facilitator, ‘Stewpot’ Stewart, were a little annoying but it was certainly interesting. Cleggy did best by a country mile – I especially liked his summation where he name-checked all the question setters. That was very cute. Campo I thought did least well and Gordo, well, it was a valiant effort. I liked it when he tried to land his two obviously-prepared cutting remarks – ‘this isn’t Question Time David; it’s answer time’ and ‘you can’t airbrush your policies like you airbrush your posters’ but he’s hopeless at timing and they got almost totally lost beneath Stewpot’s interjections. But he tried to smile as he delivered the lines and, bless him, for a few seconds he looked almost human.
But the best bit of the night was when my daughter R (regular readers will know she’s Down’s syndrome) asked afterwards how I’ll vote in the election. Rather neatly I turned the question back and asked who she’s thinking of backing and immediately she replied Lionel. My wife and I looked at each other quizzically and asked who? Lionel she said, Lionel Blair. It’s moments like that that bring a lump to our throats and a smile to our faces. We explained that Tony Blair (or Foggy as he’s affectionately remembered) was no longer leader of New Labour but the thought of the nation being led by one of our campest hoofers started to take root in my mind. Wayne Sleep could be Minister for Internal Affairs (ooh matron), Arlene Philips Leader of the Commons and Brendon Cole, Chief Whip. Or as we better know them… the Liberal Democrats front bench. Morning Jeremy!