Plus ca change, as some French bloke once said

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Voting

I'll admit I was rather scornful of the much-hyped televised leaders' debates when they were first mooted some months ago. What little I saw over...

I'll admit I was rather scornful of the much-hyped televised leaders' debates when they were first mooted some months ago.

What little I saw over the past few weeks, including the few minutes I could bear to watch last night, did little to change my mind. It was all presentation over substance, never mind what was actually being said. Which, in my (perhaps jaundiced) opinion, was very little.

But in one area I got it wrong. While the viewing figures waned as the debates dragged on, they were nevertheless watched by millions.

This suggests that far from being a complete turn-off, politics still has a place in people's lives. It gets people going. This can only be a good thing. If the debates contribute to more of those entitled to vote getting out on May 6 and voting, then so much the better.

After which the real work begins for whichever party finds itself in power on the morning of May 7.

Such was Gordon Brown's poor position six months ago that it seemed David Cameron was walking the ball towards an open electoral goal. Then, as opinion polls appeared to close the gap the latter appeared in danger of hoofing the ball into row Z, that is until 'Bigot-gate' effectively kicked the Prime Minister into touch.

There is still talk of a hung Parliament, and the Clegg Effect™, but I reckon when push comes to shove, when people wander into their local polling stations and ruminate on the state of the economy and how, like in 1997, change might be no bad thing after all, wavering voters will opt for the Tories. I'll wager Dave getting a majority of at least 10 seats, but it could go either¬ indeed any¬ way on the day.

This clearly won't be the end of it. Talking to pubco bosses and City types recently, there's the inescapable feeling that it probably doesn't make a huge amount of difference who's running the country in the short term; nasty economic and fiscal decisions will have to be taken.

The UK will just have to take its medicine. I read one comment the other day, purportedly from Mervy King, governor of the Bank of England, which suggested that whoever wins on May 6 will have to make such tough decisions that they will end up being unelectable "for a generation". Yet this won't put off those seeking power.

And what the heck. As observers have noted, whatever the political landscape, people will still want to go out and enjoy themselves. Those pub operators who are fighting fit, financially and operationally, will have a good chance of managing the worst of what fiscal upheavals await us all, as they give us what we want and make our lives that bit more fun than they'd otherwise be.

But be warned, there could well be casualties in the months ahead.

Related topics: Other operators

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