Today’s leaders’ debate topic is foreign policy, and it comes from the brilliant Arnolfini in Bristol. You can watch it on Sky News and the BBC News Channel, or follow my commentary on it from @demsoc (using the tag #talkissues). Those of you who are channel-deprived can listen on Radio 4 (not Radio 5, which will have commentary on Atletico Madrid v. Liverpool – easy to confuse).
Nick Clegg, who will be in the middle for this debate, has tricky second album syndrome. Can he repeat his performance from last week, when the pressure is on? Were the positive reactions to last week the result of novelty, of anger against the traditional parties, or just the quality of his contribution?
Gordon Brown and David Cameron will be doing their best not to say “I agree with Nick”, while also portraying themselves as potential international statesmen. It’s all for show, of course. Britain has a seat on the UN Security Council, but a PM personally doesn’t have much more influence on world affairs than Old Bob down at the Angler’s Retreat. Either the policy is decades-old and difficult to change (like our alliance with the US), or it’s an area where we have no power at all on our own (like climate change).
Other things that are likely to come up are Trident (Clegg’s tricky area); Europe (where Cameron has to walk a line between feeding the sceptics and looking like one of the headbanging obsessives); Afghanistan and Iraq (not ancient history yet).
I’m also going to score the leaders’ comments, rating them on:
- FTOTB “Fight them on the beaches” – score up to 5 for bombastic self-aggrandising rhetoric
- OMIB “Our Masters in Brussels” – score up to 5 for Daily Mail/UKIP populism on Europe
- IAWN “I agree with Nick” – score up to 5 for love-bombing your potential coalition partner
- LIME “Look into my eyes” – score up to 5 for creepy into-camera appeals to the viewer