Posted by: secretperson | April 22, 2010

Leaders’ Debate: Iraq vs Europe

There will be a number of issues raised in tonight’s foreign policy debate, on Sky News (and BBC News). One personal one is whether Nick Clegg can live up to all the hype, but policies I hope will rule this time.

Number one is Iraq. The Lib Dems opposed it, both other parties backed it. It turned into a complete mess. Clegg will wipe the floor with public opinion on this, and will presumably mention it at all times. I may get bored of the word Iraq after a while!

Number two is less predictable, Europe.

Polls have seemed to suggest that people support loose trading relationships with Europe, and that is what the Tories will try and press. However even people who support there stance may be in danger of seeing their position as extreme, as that is the line the others will press. Watch out for lots of questions about the Tories Eastern allies.

The Lib Dems are probably more EU than most voters, and this could count against them. Clegg’s admission that joining the Euro, which he supported would have been a mistake with hindsight, makes sticking to his guns difficule. Both others will attack this.

So where does Gordon Brown fit in? A shrewd political operator could no doubt try and exploit both sides weaknesses, and present himself as pragmatic, practical, working to get the best out of Europe for Britain. Gordon will probably end up offending pro- and anti-EU sides!

Predictions: Clegg to edge narrowly ahead, thanks to Iraq, of Cameron who will gain points on Europe (but also lose them). Brown most implicated in Iraq, along with questions on funding the army to lose, but whether it is a narrow loss or an embarrassment depends on how well he works the centre ground on Europe.

Second prediction: I’m a regular donor to the Royal British Legion, but I’ll be fed up by the end of hearing about ‘brave soldiers’!

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