Donald Macintyre's Sketch: No clear winner in a clash of opposites
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Wednesday 26 March 2014
So this was it. The rumble in the jungle. Without a title fight since 2010, the undisputed TV debate champion was up against the great white hope of anti-politics, the man we always thought of as the No 1 cheeky chappie but who, we were horrified to learn, believes that no politician has in recent years “worked so many hours and had as little fun as me”.
The contest, sharply refereed by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, was the liveliest political event for quite a while, albeit one without a knock-out. One problem in making the crucial points judgement – apart from avoiding the likes of Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron and Ukip star European candidate Patrick O’Flynn prowling the 'spin room' – is that Clegg-Farage is a kind of category mistake. Clegg remains in many respects a conventional politician; even his wilder claims about three million jobs disappearing if Britain leaves the EU were modified with the assertion that that’s the number “linked” to EU membership.
Farage, by contrast, may be at heart steeped in 1950s nostalgia, but is a good deal more post-modern about the facts and figures. There was a good moment when Clegg reminded him of his threat that 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians could flood into the UK last January – which hasn’t exactly happened – and pointed out this was bigger than the relevant population. Unabashed, Farage said that was because of the numbers that “have left already”. And anyway he wasn’t talking about a mere 29 million any more but about the “485 million [EU citizens] who have a total, unconditional right to come here if they want to”.
But Farage, it became clear, has performed a welcome service to politics. He has obliged Nick Clegg to rediscover his inner liberal – especially on immigration.
Farage looked a little sweatier, but this was no 1960 Nixon against Kennedy. He is still a contender, but it was probably Clegg’s night on points. Rematch next week.
- 1 Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
Justin Bieber posts Instagram photo of Orlando Bloom crying after Ibiza fight 'over Miranda Kerr'
Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...