The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog

RSS

10 ways to avoid Guff in tonight’s debates (please)

Election 2010: Guffwatch!

1. The basics. Brown, don't say the word "future". Cambo (why hasn't that caught on?), don't say the word "society". Clegg, don't say the word "Vince".

2. No one say the word "progressive".

3. Cambo (I'm sticking with it), if you say the phrase "broken society" you have to give, out of your own pocket, everyone in the audience a fiver just for being so darn rude. And you also have to give everyone you want to take part in the "big society" a chocolate bar to make them feel better about being broken. I presume that's all of us.

4. Pretend you're talking to your virtually-anonymous-and-rarely-photographed wives. Maybe that will make you sound more human. (If not, I'm really worried about the state of your pillow-talk.)

5. Say something we haven't heard before. Yes, that's right! Something new, unscripted, witty, fun, genuine. If this provokes a sudden and unexpected nervous breakdown you probably aren't the right bloke for the job anyway.

6. Imagine that every time you say the word "vision", you lose half a million viewers.

7. Tell a knock-knock joke.

8. Start swearing compulsively.

9. Suddenly, and inexplicably, rip off your tie.

10. Don't say anything at all! Maintain a vow of sturdy and stubborn silence. You will immediately be adored by the entire population of the United Kingdom and win as many votes as Hamid Karzai.

My predictions: Brown will self-combust halfway through. Remember that scene in The Witches where Anjelica Huston turns into a rat with green smoke coming out of her ears? A bit like that. Cambo will become oddly sweaty on that sizeable forehead of his (favourite NS quote of all time? Clive James: "There's something about David Cameron that bothers me -- those features of his are still waiting to turn into a face") and will suddenly start weeping for no reason, tears and perspiration mixing in an unholy soup. Oh, and Clegg. You know what? I think old Clegg might do pretty well out of all this.

Join the New Statesman tonight on our leaders' debate live blog