Gordon, Cambo, Clegg. This is your last chance.

Election 2010. Guffwatch!

And so, the day arrives. The final TV debate is upon us. As David Dimbleby wraps up tonight's show, I will let a single tear descend my cheek in tribute to one of the most pumped-up, super-hyped televisual and electoral events of all time. But hasn't it been fun.

Given it's the merry trio's last chance to woo and wow us with their performances (sorry, policies), here are some tips for them to make their mark, to lodge themselves in our minds, as we embark on the final countdown to polling day itself.

1. Gordon. My colleague James Macintyre has suggested a serious speech. An alternative: "You know what? I've had it with pretending I'm relaxed and happy. I actually want to take a swing at most of you. I KNOW BEST."

2. Cambo. You've really got to do something radical after the lacklustre simperings offered up in the first two debates. What about shaking things up from the start and sauntering on to the stage in some surf shorts, flip-flops, a backwards-turned cap and . . . yes . . . a hoodie! It would be like your own little private joke with the population. Look at me! So comfortable with you normal folk that I can even wear a hoodie! I'll hug myself! It would drive Clegg mad if nothing else -- his hands-in-pockets manoeuvre is pure down-with-the-kids stuff.

3. Clegg. DON'T MESS IT UP. You have mostly stormed it so far, so for God's sake don't think you're safe and start busting out leftfield lines for the sake of catching a few extra votes. You can almost imagine it -- Clegg, tired of his "old parties" routine, thinking that he's got it all sewn up and announcing a few off-the-cuff initiatives. Free Spanish lessons for your pets! Release all violent prisoners and send them to work in Gordon Ramsay's restaurants! Cut the deficit by turning the Houses of Parliaments into luxury flats!

4. Dimbleby. Really, after Stewart and Boulton, I think you'll have a good time tonight, showing all that natural chairing authority and silver-foxed cool. Just remember, though, this is not Question Time. There'll be no time for your quippy asides or long interventions. But perhaps he'll have an aide on hand to restrain him physically when Gordon gets out of hand.

5. The post-match analysis. Please tell me you've got someone good doing the interviews afterwards, someone (mentioning no names) who won't look over their shoulder like a bored person at a party while interviewing a cabinet minister. (Kay! Why did you do that?) Also, a profound, heartfelt plea to the BBC to drop their very own initiative -- the worm. Watching the worm chart the audience response (to summarise: "Oh look, Clegg's speaking, I like Clegg" -- yellow worm goes up. "Oh, but now Cameron's speaking, maybe I like him now" -- blue worm goes up) is possibly the most blood-icingly boring and pointless thing I have ever seen on TV. And this is someone who has watched Doctors talking.

Predictions? Brown will try to make light of The Gaffe but will ruin it by smiling. Clegg and Cambo will battle it out for the title of "youthful people-lover King". But Cambo will get lost in his big/broken/brazen society guff and Clegg will clinch it. The worms will win Guff of the Night, though, no doubt about it.

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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