Though the Leader debates have been presented ever more like X Factor or even Strictly Come Dancing – with carefully honed performances constantly judged minute by minute by tweets, capped by media pundits and then judged by almost instant polls – politics is not actually a branch of showbiz entertainment, though the media do their best to make it so.
The most exciting thing about this extraordinary election is not that the Lib Dems might establish themselves again after a century in the wilderness as a serious third force under a first-past-the-post system – which would be remarkable in itself – but rather that the wider power structure could change quite fundamentally. Before the first debate the tiny clique of power-brokers – the City of London, the mega-corporations, the Murdoch media – were confidently expecting a Cameron shoo-in leading to at least a 3-term Tory Government. After it, and still after the second debate, they are facing the likelihood of a Clegg-influenced Government conditional on electoral reform which would mean they will never hold power on their terms again. No wonder Conservative Central Office, the City of London, leading business executives, and the Murdoch family are reported to be in a state of sheer panic.
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