Thrashed to a dead-heat: 23 April 2010

Well, as promised, here is a brief analysis of the foreign policy positions of the three British parties, based on the tv debate held last night. And it is a brief post because, well, the amount of foreign policy stuff dealt with was so sparse.

On Afghanistan, all three parties agreed it was a foreign policy priority, and that it was essential to ‘win’ in Afghanistan. They all agreed that they would pursue a similar strategy in the future, if circumstances demanded it. They quibbled about the current strategy, but without too much precision.

On nuclear weapons, Brown and Cameron stuck to tried and tested lines of defence (oddly Cameron seemed more stuck within immovable debating lines – I wondered whether this was the heavy hand of the Tory membership(?)), whilst Brown was shackled to his record. Clegg seemed – to me – to move his position slightly. He would delay the decision about renewing Trident until the technology was completely obsolete and I think he was a bit cheeky to suggest that £100bn could be saved on it; surely that saving would only appear over thirty years? He stuck to his guns on Eurofighter, although he said the ‘third tranche’ of the procurement, not 3b, which is significant financially. It may have just been a slip of the tongue.

On Europe, there was the traditional difference in emphasis between the three: Cameron – in Europe, but not dictated to by Europe, Brown – in Europe and leading Europe, and Clegg – in Europe and making it a force for good in the world. No-one did particularly well, or particularly bad on this one.

For me, Clegg won the first half of the debate, and Cameron the second. Brown and Cameron were far better this time at shutting the debate down – by squabbling, and hassling they stopped Clegg firing off that jab; they were far more in the boxing mode of hug and punch underneath, which will make the final debate next week one of the dullest televisual events ever, or – if someone gets a debating haymaker away – unforgettable telly!


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