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: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower