Simon Carr: Clegg’s new role is to make Cameron look battle-hardened

The Sketch

Share
Related Topics

Piteous reports of the Prime Minister in the country were coming through yesterday. Surrounded by hostile public and media – he was acting out the end of Rocky: "Aaaadrienne! Aaaaaadrienne!" His wife ended up leading him around by the elbow. He is becoming every day a greater object of terror and pity.

As a result, there was something heroic about him in last night's debate. He was, in his way, magnificent. He had the strongest voice, the biggest case and the most pointed lines of attack. It also seemed to be true – judging from the instant results – that no one wants to hear what he has to say. The economy was his special subject, his longest suit, and he came last in all polls. He may (or may not) have won the arguments, the substance, the policy – and his vote collapsed.

At least his elegists and obituarists will have found material and things to admire.

Not his human touch, obviously, not his connection with the hall. My word they sat there with one serious look on their collective face.

His job was to persuade us that voting Tory is a vote for cancer. His examples were a little brightly coloured – why cut corporation tax for the banks to take money away from honest manufacturing? Why take money from children and give it to millionaires? Why "take money out of the economy" by not going along with a tax hike?

There are perfectly good answers to these – crisp, clear, counter-punchy – and Cameron's reluctance to argue back is one of the mysteries of the campaign.

Gordon's strongest attack has been made a dozen times in the debates. The inheritance tax proposals only benefit a derisory number of millionaires. The Conservative press office email out a rebuttal – that the figure is not 3,000 beneficiaries but 4 million estates. Cameron never mentions it. Why not? It was the policy that revived Tory fortunes and it only provokes a generalised, philosophical defence. It may be there's something rotten in there and he doesn't want to let it out.

The Tory leader at last produced a response to the claim that a tax hike is "putting money into the economy". He described this as a mistake of the PM which "confuses the economy with the Government". Does that turn the lights on for you? I don't quite get it. What about: "Only the most extreme socialists believe that money is 'in the economy' when it's been taxed and spent by the Government."

And the Lib-Debs – the Liberal-Debutants. Will the trick work again? Over to you, that's outside my sphere.

Having heard Clegg three times playing the same trick – professionally and fairly convincingly – would you agree he sounded well versed in the old politics? Yes or no? Answer yes or no, yes or... You get the idea.

It must be said that his eyebrows look unfinished? Local experts suspect they've been plucked. And is his collar slightly too large? So that there's room to grow into it, as our mothers said when we were nine? One of Clegg's important influences is on our perception of the Tories. He's now the ingenu. He's new. He pushes Cameron up a school year. He makes Cameron look battle-hardened. Maybe that's why the blue vote is hardening.

At least we know at a deeper level than before that argument is not enough. You can win and still lose. Tragic! And not a little comic, too.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas