James Forsyth

The candidates’ debate

The candidates' debate
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This week of the election campaign is going to be dominated by the first leaders’ debate. The debate format means that these might well turn out to be stilted encounters that don’t sway many voters either way. But given how many people will tune in—the broadcasters are confidently predicting an audience of ten million plus—the party leaders are taking no chances. As I mention in the Mail on Sunday, Brown has had a light campaign schedule since the election was called because he’s keen to maximise the amount of time he has to prepare while Cameron has spent every spare moment on the road immersed in his briefing books for the debate.

My hunch is that if we are to see a ‘YouTube moment’, a bit of the debate that gets replayed endlessly, it will not come in response to a policy question but one of the more personal ones. On that front, today’s interview with Brown in The Sunday Times should encourage the Tories. Take this exchange:

When we ask whether there is anything about Cameron that he actually admires, he responds after a long pause: “I don’t know him as a human, I don’t know him well. He seems to be doing a good job for the Conservatives from a public relations stance.”

On TV, such an answer would look appallingly mean-spirited.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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