It might be unfashionable to say it, but all three of the main party leaders were pretty good in the last of the televised encounters in the British general election. They were each cross-examined by an audience whose members have rightly been praised for the sharpness of their questions.
Yes, Miliband had his stumble as he attempted to leave the stage, but the dais design was particularly daft. He also got a tough time on the last Labour government’s handling of the economy, in the process reminding the country how bizarre it is that his party has failed have a proper reckoning on that question or acknowledged that the “end of boom and bust” was based on a mad, unsustainable boom that left Britain very badly exposed when the crisis came, as they always do eventually. Other than that, apart from the almost falling over and the economic delusion, Miliband did quite well…
David Cameron also did well and Nick Clegg was great, which is not something you will have heard me saying in the last five years.
Of course, my son (10) refused to watch the leaders be grilled live. He is very keen on the election but even he has had enough of it. This meant we were stuck watching Wreck it Ralph (Miliband) and Fix it Felix, which come to think of it was a little like watching Ed Miliband versus David Cameron, only in video game format. I caught the programme later on catch-up.
Very soon, we will know which of this pair has triumphed or limped over the line. What is certain is that there will be far more winners than losers among the party leaders, which means they have to start thinking about what to say in the event of defeat. Politics is brutal and losing well, with grace and a touch of humour, must be difficult. Just to be helpful, here is what I think they will say if the electorate decides that it is time to say thanks and goodbye.
Ed Miliband: “Look, I’m not disappointed for me. This election was never about me. I’m just disappointed that this country ain’t gonna get the change it needs. Look, I’ve gotta go. I’ve got a very small lecture to give at Harvard.”
David Cameron: “…”
David Cameron?: “snore…”
David Cameron?!: “Sorry, sorry, just having a little snooze after lunch. Right! That’s much better. Now I feel bloody lively. If we move quickly we’ve got time for a quick pint before I have to get back here to put the lasagne in the oven.”
Nick Clegg: “Bonjour! Hallo! Hola, Brussels!”
Nigel Farage: “Look. You win some. You lose some. And I’ve had a pretty good ride. What’s that? Yes, don’t mind if I do. Another pint of Spitfire please. Reload!”
Nicola Sturgeon: “I blame MI5.”
Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru: “I don’t like to go on about it, but I’m from Wales.”