Tonight, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and UKIP Leader Nigel Farage will go head to head for their first debate on Britain’s place in or out of the EU on TV and radio. It’s likely to be a fiery contest, with little to unite the two men. Here are few things to watch out for:
NICK’S NAME DROPPING:
In 2010 Nick Clegg made a point of addressing his answers to the person who had asked them, by name. It made the Lib Dem leader look tuned-in, engaged and human. Four years on Nick could do with some of the Cleggmania from last time, and may try the trick again.
Farage may seem charming, but there is a lot of talk about how short his temper is. These debates are his biggest moment so far, and that temper may well fray under the pressure. Lib Dem sources believe that Farage’s anger will be exposed under the cameras, and that is one advantage the much calmer Clegg has.
NICK TALKS JOBS:
‘In Europe, in work’ was the slogan of the recent Lib Dem conference, and the line is almost certain to make an appearance in the debate, as will Clegg’s reference to the 3 million jobs that EU membership creates in Britain. He will also undoubtedly mention the business groups that back Britain being in the EU. Farage will counter with references to countries that maintain strong business links with the EU, without being part of it.
NIGEL: “IMMIGRATION, IMMIGRATION, IMMIGRATION…”
We’ve gone from Blair’s education, education, education, to Farage’s immigration, immigration, immigration. The UKIP leader has undoubtedly put this issue on the agenda, and may well try to remind voters of the unpopular amnesty Clegg proposed in 2010, despite changes to Lib Dem policy now. Farage knows that immigration is the topic that secures him working class votes, and will try and shoehorn it in on all occasions.
NICK ON UKIP’S VOTING RECORD
UKIP’s voting record in the European Parliament is pretty poor, to say the least. Farage himself only votes in about 46 percent of European Parliament votes, well below the UKIP average of 66.17 percent, according to Channel 4’s Michael Crick. In contrast, Lib Dem MEPs vote in 87.95 percent of votes, and Clegg will try and make hay from this er… kipping on the job.
NIGEL REMINDS US OF NICK’S EU JOBS
Nigel likes to make out he is the his the anti-politician (despite being one,) and will no doubt remind us that Nick worked in the EU as a trade negotiator before becoming an MEP, while he was working in the City.
Less something to look out for, but what sort of round-up would this be without some wild speculation?
A Clegg win for me, narrowly, and only points.
Senior Lib Dems don’t seem to be taking this for granted though. That may be expectation management, but there is also always the possibility of a Farage knock out blow.