That was the David Cameron I wanted to see. Passionate, full of conviction, positive, more combative. It wasn't a slam dunk victory, but it was never going to be. But it was a clearcut victory - more so than last week. It was his best performance of the three, whereas I felt that Brown and Clegg put in their weakest performances of the three, although I am not diminishing Clegg's appeal. His was still a comparatively good performance, but I thought he was in danger of overgoing the "two old parties" line in the first twenty minutes. He became irritating. Well, I found it irritating, at least. On two questions he floundered badly - immigration and housing. At the end he was reading notes during his final statement.
Gordon Brown tanked badly. Anyone who thinks he didn't wasn't watching the same debate as me. His closing statement summed up his problem. It was mostly negative and the rictus grin at the end will have put off any floating voter. I was with 40 people in Starbucks at Birmingham University (a 5 Live audience) and they all verbally shuddered when he did that. His makeup was appalling, he looked terrible and his opening remark about his bad day yesterday led to groans all round.
Brown had to do well tonight to show any sign of connecting with the 8 per cent of voters he needs to attract in the last seven days. He completly failed. No doubt Labour spinners are calling it a marvellous victory for him. If so, then they do their trade a disservice.
I know when someone does well or not. I called the first debate for Clegg and made clear I thought Cameron hadn't performed well. In the second I called it a narrow Cameron win, but effectively a score draw. Both those calls were right. So when I call it a Cameron decisive win tonight, I don't do it out of party loyalty, blind obedience, partisansip or anything else. I called it as I saw it. And so, it seems did most of the instant polls.
So, what did you think, dear readers?
* I'll be doing post match commentary on 5 Live when the wretched football finishes, alongside Mark Thompson and Will Straw.
Missed the debate as was on a conference call with a client down under. Just spead-read the livechat on a certain other blogsite, sounds like it was a bit of a ding-dong all-round.
Did I see something about Mandy flouncing out the press room afterwards for some reason? Sounds suspiciously like a hack broke ranks and started questioning him a bit harder than he permits. Must be a terrible feeling for him to realise his days of control are drawing to a close.
Spot on Iain. I yearned for Dave and Gordon to remind Nick Clegg that his party is actually the oldest - it's not their fault nobody has found them appealing for most of the last 100 years.
I agree with you Iain, a clear win for Cameron.
Brown simply played the negative card.
Clegg was simply an opportunist.
Cameron displayed a great vision.
Iain - key point you should mention. EU immigration into UK isn't 80%, it's nearer to a third.
Decisive win for Cameron - positive, vibrant and frankly, prime ministerial. I am delighted he exposed Clegg's loony policies and yes, Cleggie's little shtick has worn thin.
Cameron was strong throughout. I gave him 9/10 from his opening speech, 8/10, 8.5/10 in between, and then back to 9/10 with a barnstorming closing speech. He was focussing on the camera, and effortlessly using the names - basically doing the things Clegg did right, but making it look completely natural. He got in some good attacks - finally breaking the link between "government" and "the economy" for the £6bn.
Clegg suffered badly. I had him starting at 7/10, then dropping as low as 5/10 when he was stumbling under the attacks and his (lack of) policies. Trying Gordon's ineffective "yes or no!" bullying just failed utterly and he looked like a kid throwing a tantrum. His closing speech was good, though. Cheesy, but it'll be effective, so 7.5/10 to finish.
Brown started OK, 7/10, didn't get a lot worse. His attacks never really landed on DC - he winged Clegg on a couple of issues, but it seemed rather pointless. 6/10 the whole way. His closing speech would have dragged him back up to 7 with uncontestable lies about cancer/etc, but then he grinned at the end. 6/10, and I'm being generous.
Amusingly, for yet another week, my scores came out almost the same as YouGov's: 9/(9+7.5+6) = 40%.
Completely agree. The clunking fist was in clear evidence, and Brown seemed to think that he could scare voters over continual reference to Child Tax Credits and the other parties plans for that. He got boring by the end, and he rarely seemed to want to laud his own policies, preferring to act the back street bully and always attack Cameron and Clegg. I liked the fact Cameron got in the fact about youth unemployment being its highest ever, under Brown's stewardship, to which the Prime Mentalist just shook his head as if Cameron had no idea what was being talked about. You could tell when Clegg and Cameron didn't share his world view, Brown shook his head!
Sorry Gordon, scare tactics don't work, and credit to the others, they didn't rise to the angry delivery of his remarks...
yep, undoubtedly Cameron's best performance, and Brown's worst, especially considering it was his to loose. A very good result.
You're spot on.
Cameron had the gravitas of a future PM but was more engaging and less formal and stilted than in previous debates. Overall, his performance has been OK if over-cautious, but he let loose tonight.
Clegg is a good performer but has no other mode than salesman-televangelist. It's getting a little boring now....
Brown was a disaster. The man must have had some charisma sometime, as he was a student leader and rising MP. Too much time in smoke-filled rooms with sychophants, rather than meeting real people, maybe?
This seals the deal. Tory majority of 20 or so. Shame, I would have liked a Con-Lib coalition, perhaps just out of curiosity.
I have to say that I think that Clegg came over better to the average voter - my wife was complaining about my outraged interjections but I don't think the average voter knows much about what Clegg was saying (e.g. LibDem policy on joining the Euro).
Once again we see the camera swinging to GB shaking his head while D is talking, implying that the wise elder thinks D is wrong but no similar criticism when NC is talking or GB is blatantly lying.
I am afraid that every time I brown I want to put a bullet into to his stupid, gurning head. Then go for his family so his genes are not passed on to anyone else. As for Clegg, he is just the idiot that Cable plays the straight man to.
Brown - even without yesterday's horrific performance - resembles one of those party balloons still hanging outside a house weeks after the party finished : shrivelled,formless and useless.
At last we can see the dark and satanic evil of the past 13 years that Labour have wrought upon our nation, slowly lifting to reveal sunshine and hope for us all.
Brown really is going,out of our lives along with his thugs and his minder Sarah.
Not long to go.
I think that the poll results are more accurate than your tweet giving Cameron 50%.
As a Lib Dem I have to say that was Cleggs least impressive performance of the three and it looked like the potential situation of a hung parliament is pressing down on him. Not bad but Cameron was clearly the winner.
Brown is indeed Toast.
A university has a Starbucks?! :-(
Clegg: Petulant and hugely uncomfortable when pressed on his policies. Infact he lied about his manifesto positions more than once. Shown up as a one trick "old parties" pony.
Brown: Just horrible and living 20 years in the past. That completely false, disturbing grin at the end made my stomach turn over.
Cameron: Made his points very well, got some nice digs in on both the other leaders that can be used in the coming days.
On May the 6th we must return a Conservative majority.
I think Clegg did far worse than you have rated him Iain.
He tried all his used car sales tricks, but we've seen them before and peoples ( and worse journalists ) are laughing at him when he tries to pull them. ( As was reported from multiple sources on twitter during the debate ).
On the Lib Dem immigration amnesty to VAT on new houses Clegg floundered and even started back tracking.
And on the Euro he was a total coward.
Its a shame there isn't a fourth debate, because Clegg has been found out.
Sound appraisal, Mr D. Totally agree.
Enjoyed yer twits (tweets?) too.
On BBC1 and Channel 5 the story was the same: the Reds are out of the game
Clegg said 80% of immigration came from outside the EU.
According to the National Statistics Agency, in the year to June 2009 there was a 91,000 increase in the population born from outside the EU, and 61,000 from the other 26 EU countries.
That means 40% of net immigration is EU. So 80% is frankly misleading.
Maybe that dreadful grin is rigor mortis...
Something to chuckle about.
Mrs Q only watched the closing statements and rated them on message, appearance and body language.
She agrees with you.
Cameron was terrific .hope returns
Just hope the British people might start waking up from their torpor and despatch the socialists from the political scene, so hard and so far, that they never recover to inflict so much damage again on a nation....
Iain, it was a clear win for Cameron. Brown was a stuck record especially over IHT.
This was meant to be on Brown's specialist subject & he completely flunked it.
Maybe next week the polls will harden as the undecideds finally make up their mind?
There is still time to avoid a hung parliament.
Cameron 7 Clegg 6 Brown 4
I don’t think any of them did a great job of inspiring voters, though Cameron definitely came out of it as PM-in-waiting. (btw, What was with the moustache and shiny chin? Is the make-up woman a socialist?) Clegg flailed a bit but held his nerve and ended on a high note. Brown had his moments but when it suited him he glossed over the fact that he’s been in power for 13 years, and we aren’t that stupid.
The BBC panel’s on-screen “worms” during the closing speech were interesting. Cameron had a high rating but finished on a low note. Clegg manitained a high rating to the end. Brown was in negative numbers for most of his time, while he was attacking Cameron, and that smile at the end just about put the tin hat on it.
Cameron won, with Clegg a fairly close second and Brown nowhere.
None of them answered the key questions on the economy and instead spent a great deal of time wittering about micro policy.
Cameron was by far the strongest this evening in my view. If only he had the right way of thinking on the EU I might not be voting non-Tory for the first time in my life.
Clegg was full of BS tonight. Plus ça change...
Lib Dem Lies
And it is idiots like you who may deliver a Lib/Lab coalition which will be the most europhile govt in history. Hope you'll be proud of yourself. You make me sick.
So anyone who doesn't agree with you is an "idiot"? I think that's as bad as "bigot" really. Someone expresses their legitimate wish to vote freely for an alternative party, and you call them an idiot?
Majorities are not the answer. Nor are hung parliaments. http://dev-null.chu.cam.ac.uk/htm/soundandfury/10-04-28-if_hung_answer_what_question.htm
(Sound and Fury will be voting either Ukip or Old Holborn here in Cambridge; Nick Hillman is too weak and waffly. Besides, unlike the two mentioned above, NH hasn't deigned to answer Sound and Fury's questions yet. OH actually gave an interview!)
All the negative aspects of the Labour campaign have Browns finger marks over them.
The Party Political Broadcast
His negative summing up and another mention of the 2 week wait for Cancer treatment.
Brown is this Labour campaign. It is a direct reflection of his vile character.
enquiring mind should get with the programme. A vote for any of the minor parties will let in LibLabbery & we can ill afford that, especially with the economy in such a mess.
We need strong Government. Choosing not to vote for a party based on one aspect of policy is plainly ridiculous. Look at what you broadly agree with, enquiringmind, not what you vehemently disagree with.
Then make your mind up.
Yes - clear win for Cameron. Clegg didn't have a chance to be sanctimonious about expenses tonight - but has everyone seen this Guardian story about how he made a fat profit on selling the Brussels home he bought when he was an MEP?
Hope this gets wider coverage!
Well Iain, I've been called many things in my time but never an idiot. I understand where you're coming from, but like many other voters I'm sick of the system whereby we get one say every five years and the governing party - elected by an ever-decreasing proportion of the population - then thinks they have a mandate to do whatever the hell they want once they are in 'power'.
Heaven forbid that we should have a Lib-Lab coalition (I would like to think a Lib-Con pact isn't inconceivable). But what I want is a conservative government, and if a year of coalition or opposition makes the Conservatives buck up their ideas, stick their necks out and say a few more things the British public actually want to hear, that will be a good thing. Appreciate it's a big 'if', but it feels at the moment as though nobody is actually standing up for the public interest.
As it happens I'll be on holiday on election day, and my postal vote hasn't turned up. The council are suggesting there's nothing they can do about it, so it won't be me who delivers that coalition.
Maybe Cameron won on the style, but I watched it in a room full of debaters - as in people who compete each week on the university debating circuit, and are used to judging analysis and argumentation, rather than soundbites. Not one person thought Cameron put in a good performance. I guess that's democracy for you.
Iain, please stop justifying your objectivity. We know and trust your feelings - you don't have to regularly explain your self. Those to whom your comments are directed will never believe you anyway.,
Keep it up.
Sound and Fury...
I will agree that Iain could have expressed himself more moderately, but his point holds. While it is everyone's right to cast their vote whichever whichway, they should consider the implications. I briefly flirted with voting UKIP, because I would seriously like to ditch the EU, but quickly realised that habitual Conservative voters doing that would be casting a vote for a party that cannot win power but could let in a Labour/LibDem pact far more damaging to the country than an outright Conservative majority.
You are absolutely right that that anyone can vote freely for an alternative party, but they should do so having weighed the balance and in full knowledge of what the repercussions may be. This is a very tight election. If you feel that voting UKIP, increasing the possibility of a Labour/LibDem pact, enslaving us even more to the EU, is what you want to do, that is entirely your right. But don't blind yourself to what your vote may do.
Prepare to wake up happy on May 7th when polls show that the Conservatives failed to achieve a majority because of their votes leaking to UKIP, and we have a Labour/LibDem coalition.
Did I watch the same debate as you politico's tonight??!!
Cameron sealed the deal with the voters he needed to win over, and he pushed up turnout where it mattered.
Got a phone call from an SNP friend 10 mins from the end of the debate, he hadn't planned to watch it because the SNP lost their case. But having done so, he said it really stuck in his throat to admit it, but Cameron looked like a PM tonight.
That is when I realised that my gut instinct was right and not just a perception viewed through blue tinted glasses. But the media so good at building myths about Brown, Cable or Clegg still cannot recognise an out right winner on merit when they get presented with one.
Unlike Clegg, Cameron had the solid polling to back up a confident win.
I think you're right on the money this time, Iain. I doubt the LibDems will convert many people in the next week. Has Cameron left it too late, though.
Why anyone would even think of voting for a party lead by a dysfunctional has-been defies reason, but heigh ho, there's nowt as strange as folk...
Did you see Cleggs face when the Vat on housing was mentioned.
He must have been thinging "What crazy-ass thing have they put in the manifesto this time?"
Personally I thought Brown did well enough on the night. He had a case to make and made it effectively and with belief. The fact that all the instant polls show him to have indeed "tanked" says to me less about this one performance and more that the country had already made up its mind, rictus grin and all. If you are hoping for this election to hurtle Brown into oblivion that is an altogether more satisfying conclusion to come to.
Cameron was good; but it's still true the number of people who just look at him and think smarmy Tory git, no matter what he says or how eloquently he says it. Too late to worry about that now though - since they want to use this language, the Tory brand never will be fully "decontaminated".
Clegg was Clegg and suddenly that's a negative not a positive. This is a man who doesn't just try to be holier than thou but has set himself the altogether more demanding target of being holier than Vince. Yesterday we all became just a tiny bit fed up with it. If he goes down, as I suspect he will, it will be for taking the British public for fools and the story of this campaign will be that you can only do that for about two weeks at a time.
Marginal win for Cameron; Clegg got flustered after immigration raised its head. Radio listeners have actually been calling it for Brown (Nixon/Kennedy anyone?) who was much better than previously. But it's no game-changer.
I think Cameron did least poorly. Throughout these debates I have been disappointed by him. He has undoubted intellect and a background in PR yet seems to struggle to put across clearly what are good ideas.
For example, on illegal immigration, he didn't need to challenge Clegg repeatedly: all he had to do was say "You don't have to believe me or Nick: read their manifesto, which is on the Internet." or "In 13 years, Gordon has taken the strongest economy in the western world and made it one of the weakest. He's a spendthrift and we simply cannot afford him." or "on inheritance tax, it's not a few thousand households which would benefit: it's millions"
And I am afraid the "Big Society" line may resonate with political insiders but to the man in the street it means little. They want to know "What are you, the government, going to do for me?" That may well be the wrong question, but talking about the Big Society has none of the inspiration of Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country."
So, yes, I think DC won it but he needs to vastly increase his communication skills.
I note you didn't show that Harris poll where Cameron and Clegg are neck and neck!
I hear that LibDem private polling shows they are doing even better than expected in LibDem/Tory marginals, which suggests that despite Cam's apparently commanding lead, all is not well for them in those margies.
Sympathetic performance from Brown which could help him pick up some votes.
Polished Cameron but unmistakeable signs that Lynton Crosby is playing a big part in the Conservative campaign.
Clegg generally good but he was goaded by Cameron and this threw him a little. Fine final address to the audience
It is really killing you, isn't it - Desparing Liberal and Paddy Briggs. Sour grapes, anyone?
Brown looked like an embalmed corpse
Brown looked like an embalmed corpse.
Brown must have left Birmingham, the weather has improved.
LibDem policies on immigration were exposed as pure nonsense. Clegg had a convenient bit of nonsense statistics about the percentage of EU immigrants. That was a lie. In any case the whole argument is about the total of immigration - legal from the EU legal from elsewhere and illegal from anywhere. It is true that we can do nothing about the 40% from the EU but the other 60% is the crusher. Cutting border control staff does not help.
LibDem policy to charge VAT on new houses is idiocy. That can hardly help with the housing shortage - an irrational policy.
Faced with these two nonsenses in his manifesto Clegg fell away.
"a party that cannot win power" - the only reason that Ukip "cannot win power" is because no-one believes it can. Given that most rank-and-file Tories want to leave the EU, if tactics weren't an issue Tory support would collapse to Ukip. By voting Ukip this election, you increase their credibility at the next one - and since any coalition would be unlikely to last long, that might not be as far off as it seems. With Farage in Buckingham and a strong showing in enough other constituencies, Ukip could become an electable force.
Of course, if my proposed reform were implemented, the question would be moot.
I do wish, Iain, that you would be a little bit more objective in your analysis.
In the late 60s/early 70s, when we were 'C of Heath', we still held our noses and voted Conservative because he showed no real drive. Today, I shall be doing the same with Cameron: holding my nose and voting to get rid of Brown.
Last night's debate was not 30 minutes old when I had the urge to throw my remote at the TV because of the way Cameron was NOT rebutting Brown's lies and Clegg's naivetee.
when Brown was bragging about the fact that he had dropped income tax to 20p, where was Dave interjecting with the powerful put down that he had also DOUBLED the tax for low earners by scrapping the 10p tax band?
Where was the rebuttal to Brown's claim that the Tories were to 'take £6B out of the economy', when they would do no such thing? The £6B, Dave could have said, would still be in the economy, just not in the government's hands - where it would no doubt be wasted.
And, why didn't Dave come back at the constant claim that he is all about enriching the 3,000 richest people in Britain by raising the IHT threshold. He could have wrapped up that rebuttal with a go at the LibDem's 'mansion tax'.
I don't need to rehearse those arguments here, but they should have been given an outing last night.
"What's this Corporation Tax cut for banks? It's for EVERY business. God, this man is a complete and utter fucking liar. Unfit to be PM." Dale on Twitter
Why do you have to resort to such language? Are you denying that banks would benefit from a Corporation Tax cut - if not how was Brown's statement a lie?
Did anyone really learn anything new about the party leaders's positions in any of the 3 debates?
It's no wonder that the audience was much lower for the last terrestial debate than the first one. So many of the line were over rehearsed and appeared in all 3 debates - and none of the leaders were creative or brave enough to go off piste and engage with the other's arguments other than to parrot the normal party line. It was more of an acting competition than a debate I'm afraid.
I though Brown was better last night, and that Cameron and Brown exposed Clegg as the lightweight that he is.
Cameron 1, Brown 2, Clegg nowhere
Very true Iain.
However, the pre-debate surge in support for Cameron (YouGov) may also have had something to do to people’s perceptions of how both would-be PMs handled potentially difficult questions – contrast the empathy and sincerity of DC’s response to the parent of a disabled child to that of Mr Brown, whose patronising behaviour to Mrs Duffy (even before his microphone comments) will do nothing to endear him to an undecided electorate.
Iain, something remarkable has happened, we had an actual candidate visit it us (first time ever), and given the size of the constituency that is no mean feat. We spent about 10 or so mins talking, and on the strength of the conversation we might vote for him. He was an Independent.
I'll ignore the "wasted vote" response, but would point out that meeting in person close-to is far better than 'distant' on a telly screen. So when you return home in the evening tired out from a day's canvassing remember that door to door is important after all.
Lady Finchley, yeah, right, it's really killing me that the LibDems will get 80-90 seats, that the Tories on today's poll of polls figures will have fewer seats than Labour and that Nick Clegg and the nationalist parties will hold the balance of power.
I'm all cut up about it.
The indignation of Nick Clegg when Cameron implied that the Liberal Democrats are Euro supporters was the key moment in that debate for me. I always thought of him as a lightweight, but in that moment Clegg exposed himself as a man who will say anything to get power.
He could have made a defence of his EU policies (I would not agree with him but I would accept that he has an alternative point of view) but instead he pretended that the suggestion that he is pro-EU was just "Tory nonsense".
Clegg epitomises everything that is most corrupt in the British Leftist establishment - he earns a fat living off the backs of the poor by spouting lies, and cannot stop himself feeling smug about it.
Vote Clegg for change - Don't make me laugh!
For anyone a bit bored of this whole election campaign thing, I propose an alternative method of choosing our next leader: http://bit.ly/b4e7XJ
I've started to read your blog since I was made (by the 1st tv debate) more aware of the undergoing general election and I found that you are indeed a sensible man, Iain.
To be honest, I was disappointed by the performance of Clegg-- there were many points that he should have made clearer and he should have moved on from an 'outsider' to a 'serious runner' by being more aggressive on promoting his policies (even some of them look crazy but proper arguments CAN be made), rather than playing attacking card (those repeated 'yes or no' sounded so desperate!)
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