Anyway, to the matter at hand; that is my thoughts on Thursday's debate and the surrounding goings-on in this intriguing election race. Thursday morning's papers saw the country's right-wing machinery in full force as the nation's front pages peppered Nick Clegg with unsubstantiated accusations, ranging from dodgy financial transactions to Nazi sympathising. The Tory strategy since Clegg's stratospheric rise over the last week has been for the party to gently scrutinise Lib Dem policy, whilst their tentacles in the media and the blogosphere attempt to strangle the leader's burgeoning reputation as a candidate for change. Thursday's attempts, timed to put Clegg off his game before the evening's debate, appear to have failed as he brushed off the Mail's preposterous claim, joking he'd gone 'from Churchill to Nazi in a week', and later published his allegedly shady bank statements, dismissing The Telegraph's completely overblown attempt at 'scrutiny'.
Football update. It's nearly half-time in the BlueSquare matches and Histon are winning 1-0. Gateshead are still winning with Eastbourne and Forest Green still at 0-0 against Oxford and Grays respectively. As long as things stay the same, the mighty Histon will be remaining in the highest tier of non-league football for another year.
Despite a day of media pressure, Clegg came out on Thursday evening and performed well in the debate, in what was a case of trying to consolidate the past week's gains. Cameron and Brown struggled to make any of their attacks stick and he was again quick to dispel allegations of wrongdoing when Adam Boulton had the temerity to raise the issue of that day's media barrage. It is somewhat of a coup for the Liberal Democrats that polling after the debate put Clegg as joint winner, along with David Cameron, as Mr Murdoch failed to engineer the result he wished. There wasn't any brazen bias apparent on Thursday, but immigration, an issue that came up the week before, and on which Cameron scores high approval amongst voters, was raised again. Electoral reform, an issue supported by Labour, the Lib Dems and the majority of the population, was circled round but never directly addressed, whilst foreign aid, on which Labour have an admirable record, was completely bypassed. Then again, as I'm sure any Conservative would argue, last week's slight Tory bias will surely be readdressed by the pinko-loving, socialist breeding ground, that is the BBC.
Can you smell sarcasm. Or perhaps it's trepidation. Barrow have just equalised meaning a couple of inconvenient goals in Eastbourne and at Grays could stick Histon in real trouble. Scratch that. Barrow now lead. Histon are still, staying up, but only just. Trepidation is giving way to full on panic, so I'll make this last bit brief.
Gordon Brown has been said to have performed better this week but I have to say, I didn't really see it. Perhaps it's because he was pretty shoddy in the first twenty minutes or so and after that my attention rather waned. I feel that an hour and a half is too long, and rather than having the first half themed and the second half open for general questions they should be restricted just to a single theme. I am yet to see a question in the general sections at the end that couldn't be incorporated under either domestic affairs, foreign affairs or the economy. Simple proposal: why not have three, one-hour long debates under those three headings. After the first two debates this year is it's not been what's been said in the debates that has made the headlines but rather the public's response to the debates as a whole. Whilst they've definitely added some spice to this campaign, there's some tweaking to be done for next time.
Update: Forest Green ended up losing meaning they are relegated along with Ebbsfleet and Grays. A 92nd minute own goal salvaged a 2-2 draw for Histon meaning that whatever else happened they would stay up. I'm suitably chuffed right now.