Everyone who saw the first round called it for Nigel. Well, everyone outside of the political and media establishment. Perhaps my favourite moment of the whole evening was watching the mainstream media in the “spin room”, who almost unanimously were raising Clegg’s gloved hand in victory, until the results of the post-match polls forced a hasty volte face.

Seconds out, round two. The debate will be on BBC Two from 7pm. Coverage starts on the BBC News channel from 6.30pm. Will be interesting to see how David Dimbleby will compare with Nick Ferarri, who did a pretty good job last week,

Nick Clegg is apparently aiming to show his “emotional side” this evening. I would advise viewers to have a bucket and some smelling salts handy. At his opening line last week, “This debate is about you“, delivered straight into the camera, stomachs heaved up and down the country.

I would welcome this switch of focus from Clegg. He is on the wrong side of the argument, and if it comes down to passion and belief then Nigel will win hands down. I had feared that Clegg would continue his pursuit of “the facts”, by which he meant using highly selective, downright misleading or just plain fantasy “facts” to reduce the debate to an exercise in statistical ping pong. The “my stats are better than yours” tactic is an effective smokescreen behind which to hide the paucity of the pro-EU argument. If he comes out into open ground to argue on principle and belief then Nigel should be able to land a knockout blow on Clegg’s glass jaw.

Here’s a little graph I prepared earlier, based on the YouGov/The Sun polling on headline voting intention over the past couple of weeks. There’s definitely a small bounce for UKIP following last weeks debate, whereas the Lib Dems remain pretty static.

yougovpoll

While it can be argued that debates of this nature will only speak to the converted, and will do little to win over neutrals, I imagine that a knockout blow from Nigel this evening will do that purple line no harm whatsoever.

As a timely reminder of how anonymous the EU politicians that rule us really are, Ladbrokes have the odds on Herman van Rompuy getting a mention this evening at 5/1. Meanwhile Vladimir Putin is second only to the word “immigration” in the likelihood of getting a mention. Tells its own story really. No doubt Clegg’s smokescreen this week will be to focus on Nigel’s comments on the Ukraine and Putin, but he’s on the wrong side of the argument there too.

The Independent, in yet another example of how the mainstream media are becoming increasingly detached from reality, are asking who is your favourite world leader? I suspect they expected their readership to give a different answer:

independent_poll_putin

 

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