Steve Richards, who has not been an advocate for the leaders’ debates, argues “that the most significant event of the campaign has already taken place”
The launch of the Conservative manifesto earlier this week and the document itself was extraordinary, one that breaks the mould of such events in ways the media has understated. In its counter-intuitive, thought provoking and stand-out distinctiveness the launch reminded me of Labour's equally extraordinary shadow Budget, presented during the 1992 election campaign, another moment that came to be seen as pivotal.
I suspect when the post-election reviews are held it will be seen one way or the other as the key moment. Strategists from all the parties will look back and conclude either that this was when David Cameron sealed the deal or when he blew it.
Up to a point, Lord Copper. Richards is right about the 1992 campaign. The shadow Budget, that Brown was partly responsible for, did seal the deal for John Major. But time has moved on.
The voters have not been engaged by the manifestos, the policies or the campaign so far. The first debate will be the defining moment and alter the direction of this campaign. The character of our leaders and their ability to communicate through the medium of television are the all important factors these days.
The debate about Gordon Brown’s leadership, and the doubts that the electorate have about making the decisive shift to David Cameron proves the case.