They don’t stop, these people. Like every political reporter in Britain I got up this morning ready to conduct a ‘Match of the Day 3’ style post-match analysis, but instead was dragged from breakfast back onto the Big-Blue-Battle-Bus and then to one of the four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire. Well more of a muddy field than a hole. Where once had stood a massive arms factory, they are now building dozens of starter-homes, and the Conservatives are jolly proud of them.
Big Blue himself didn’t come on the bus. Again. He had Mrs Blue with him, and preferred to ride in a swanky silver Landrover. And in between cooing over a seven-week-old baby girl and taking a two year old boy for a walk (just kissing babies isn’t enough any more?) he seemed pretty pleased with how the debate had gone.
He let slip that he’d celebrated with a late-night glass of red and a steak and - we must assume - hadn’t had to punch anybody to get it. “The coalition of chaos” he called the other six debaters, and in case we hadn’t caught that soundbite, he said it again and then a third time.
It’s funny how these things work. The three news teams travelling every mile of the Tory campaign trail are rewarded with a chance, every now and then, to ask Big Blue a single question each. So we do, often quite different questions. But the answer to each is more or less exactly the same. Today we were going to be told about the ‘Coalition of Chaos’ whatever we asked.
The spinners were already spinning that line before the debate had started. Cabinet ministers, senior opposition figures past and present were wandering the ‘spinroom’ in search of anyone willing to have their ear bent. “How’s your man going to do tonight?” someone asked William Hague. “He’s going to do very well”, he shot back. And that was one of the more illuminating exchanges.
They came back out again when it was over and said exactly the same things all over again. “Chaos”, “Invisible Cameron”, “They’re all the same” etc. You would almost think they planned these things.
It was a surprisingly good and frank debate, to be honest, way better than the bore-a-thon so many had predicted. It’s just all the nonsense that goes on around these events that makes the heart sink.
- Highlight of the day: a very nice lady telling me how much she loved me on TV and asking for a ‘selfie’ for her mantelpiece.
- Lowlight of the day: the same very nice lady spending the rest of the morning calling me Mark.
James Mates is following the Conservative campaign throughout the General Election.
Carl Dinnen will keep up with the latest from the Labour campaign trail.
Rohit Kachroo is be following the Ukip campaign.
Emily Morgan will be with the Liberal Democrats.