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Now we’re talking

Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.

Passion. That’s what this election has been missing so far.

There’s been the slick and the surprising and the downright ridiculous, but until yesterday there hasn’t been any real passion.

Say what you like about him (and I have in the past) but Gordon Brown has his back against the wall now and he is not going down without a fight. His speech to the CitizensUK gathering yesterday was the speech of his political life and he is fighting tooth and nail to survive.

Maybe it’s too late to save him from the ‘bigotgate’ affair or his mistakes both as Chancellor and Prime Minister – this is the man after all who buggered up all our pensions by taking away the tax relief and sold off the Gold Reserves. Maybe, in the dying days of the campaign it will be just enough.

I am starting to get quite excited about it all now. Obviously, I don’t get out nearly enough, but there’s nothing quite like watching the results coming in – on the BBC, naturally, to remind you that this is what having the vote is all about.

I sat up all night in 1997 and saw New Labour get in. Yes, it would have taken a minor miracle to have stopped them getting in at that time, but it’s still democracy in action. I watched the acceptance speeches of Richard Taylor, the doctor who stood in Kidderminster to protest against the closure of the hospital, of Martin Bell, the journalist who stood up to the Hamiltons, of Ben Bradshaw and Gisela Stuart who both had their share of bigoted comments around their campaigns.

I think the TV leaders’ debates have done a lot to boost interest in the election this time round. I saw the results of a poll which said that the number people who said they would be unlikely to vote is way down after the three debates on what it was before they started.

Brown, as evidenced yesterday, is best when he has something to really campaign on. When he can be reminded just why he got into politics in the first place. The scripted style of the TV debates made him seem rather stilted at times, trying too hard to either score points or get a particular policy point across.

Cameron is slick and prepared and good at thinking on his feet with the people around him. He would never have made the bigot comment. But then, neither can I remember ever seeing him on the podium with as much passion as Brown had yesterday, not even when he was defending his beloved NHS when all that Obama-bashing was going on across the pond.

Clegg, too, is polished, although he sometimes has the appearance of an over-grown schoolboy who can’t quite believe he’s being allowed to play with the grown-ups at last. But he is definitely more comfortable with the style of the leaders debate than the other two, which is why his star has been ascending so far, so fast.

Apparently though, if it rains on Thursday, all bets are off, as floating voters are those most likely to vote LibDem and the ones most likely to stay at home with Bargain Hunt and Midsomer Murders rather than get wet.

All will be revealed on Friday.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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