Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Verdict on the Leaders' Debate

Well, it wasn't that exciting. In fact at times it was damned tedious. There was no huge gaffe, no devastating oneliners. No real funnies. Brown kept trying to agree with Nick Clegg to forge an alliance against David Cameron. By the end it was laughable.

But overall, I think Nick Clegg won the day, if only by a short head. He put in a very confident performance and I can't think of an error that he made. Whenever I watch these debates I try to do it at least in part through the eyes of normal voters. And I have to be honest, I think they would have been impressed by Clegg. What he said may have been utter bollocks at times - and it was - but it was the way he said it. He also dictated the terms of the debate at times. As Vince Cable just said on the BBC, the constant repeating of "We agree with Nick" justifies that assertion.

However, I thought David Cameron put in a very strong performance. He won many of the rounds by his force of argument and his closing statement was by far and away the strongest. I felt he could have been a little more aggressive at times but he clearly decided he didn't want to get into barneys with the other two. I thought he dealt well with Brown's attacks, but was a little unsure about how much to go for Nick Clegg and expose the shallowness of his arguments.

Gordon Brown did roughly what I thought he would do - come out with his well rehearsed lines, spend most of his time creating dividing lines, and attacking the Conservatives. He was full of negativity and radiated very little optimism. His off camera smirks and head shakes showed him to be petulent and a little bit nasty.

But the thing that won it for Nick Clegg was the way he interacted with the viewer - not the audience, the viewer. He spent most of his time looking directly into the camera. He also did well to address the questioner directly, as did David Cameron. He also smiled more than the other two and you can get away with a lot on TV just by dint of a smile. David Cameron needed to smile more. Gordon Brown just shouldn't ever smile because it always looks false.

So, to the scores on the doors. Content wise, I thought Cameron won, but then I would, wouldn't I, but I'm not scoring it on that. I score it on how they came across to the ordinary punter at home. So I score it...

Clegg 8
Cameron 7.5
Brown 5.5

My final point is that these instant polls are ridiculous. The Sky poll gives it to Cameron by a mile while the ITV one puts him third on 14%! They can't both be right. We should ignore all polls now until Sunday or Monday.

UPDATE: I have just had the results from the ITV/ComRes poll of 4,000 people immediately following the debate...

Which party leader do you think won the debate tonight?

Brown 20%
Cameron 26%
Clegg 43%
(none 11%)

Which party leader would you say you trust most to make any necessary cuts to public services?

Brown 28%
Cameron 36%
Clegg 36%

Which one of the three main parties do you think has the best policies on immigration?

Conservative 37%
Labour 20%
Lib Dem 35%
None / Don’t know 8%


FonyBlair said...

"We should ignore all polls now until Sunday or Monday."


...and then you publich an instant poll right underneath!! Ha!

Soudns like the Lib Dems have been block voting to ensure their man came high up in the "instant" polls!

For me Clegg did well......Cameron needs to mix his positive message with fighting his opponents otherwise he may well be in trouble come polling day.

Calum said...

This is the predominant theme of the discussions I've been having with anybody who will tolerate talking politics for more than a few seconds: the Lib Dems are getting a much stronger hearing, at least in my social group, than the polls reflect. They might be on to something.

Anonymous said...

The amount of times I heard "I agree with Nick" makes you wonder if Brown is thinking about a hung Parliament.

Grump to Inspire said...

I thought we should ignore all polls until Sunday? (Just teasing) I think the more in depth results are interesting, who won doesn't affect the average voter I would suggest but the cuts and immigration figures specifically are enlightening

Liz said...

I'd really have liked to see some discussion of civil liberties - let's hope that it's an issue that comes up at the later debates.

I'm NOT Aussie Pete! said...

Dr Legg - sorry - Nick Clegg - has the decided advantage that most people haven't been alive during a period of his party's governance.

Therefore, there's no 'Bloody Tories do nuffin for us' or 'Labour? What ghastly little people'.

Instead, the reaction from hoi polloi will be: 'What a nice man. Who is he, again?'

john boy said...

Clegg very cleverly positioned himself as the real change candidate which could prove difficult for Canmeron. I thought DC was weakest where he should have been strongest - on the economy and did nothing to rebut Brown's assertion that even more state spending (tax and borrowing) was the way to get the economy moving again......Brown fought his corner reasonably well, given how crap his record has been - but he should have been given a tougher time by DC..A missed opportunity

Silent Hunter said...

Well the clear loser of the debate was Gordon Brown.

Hectoring and clearly annoyed by being interrupted by Alastair and that weird condescending smile he has when anyone catches him out telling yet another "Brownie" and challenging him on it.

I actually enjoyed it far more than I had expected.

More so since Gordon Brown clearly flatlined with the audience and pretended that he and Nick Clegg agreed on things whilst Nick Clegg was vociferously shaking his head.


Hughes. said...

Clegg had nothing to lose, so gave easily the most relaxed performance. Dave looked nervous, Gordon was Nixonesque is his untelegenic awkwardness.

He was still peddling the discredited lies about immigration falling, which neither Clegg or Cam called him on.

I didn't much rate the quality of debate. Even as a political junkie, it felt like an unsatisfying mess.

Anonymous said...

The danger for Lib Dems is that they cannot win outright on May 6th. Brown agreeing with Clegg would have been noticed by the viewers. While Clegg might have said all things to all people, the flip side of him nearer to Brown is that voting Libdem will indeed ensure Brown rule for 5 years more. Tories should point out this after the final debate is over. Libdems cannot shift Brown and Cable being Old Labour will tolerate Brown despite calling him Mr Bean. Clegg and Cable are hungry to become ministers, but I do not see them shifting Brown and Mandy. Nice to see Campbell openly and this should be plastered all over Tory posters.

Silent Hunter said...

I agree with Liz - more debate about our Civil Liberties.

I would like to see Brown defend Labours attack on our freedom of speech and right to protest.

That should see him squirming.

Giles said...

It's not really surprising that people rated Clegg because he sounded like another member of thr audience. Clegg was Mr Angry - his answer to every question was "yes, I agree that things aren't right. And you know what? I want to do something about it!" But he usually had very little to offer in the way of his own solutions; he was just reflecting what the audience said and felt.

Brown looked bad and resorted too often to his tractor statistics and unspontaneous "jokes". Cameron's best line was "you've had 13 years to sort this out..." and Brown had no answer to that (and he knew it).

Libertarian said...

I detested listening to that but forced myself to sit through the whole charade. God we have political pygmies trying to run our country.

Much as I detest whatever it is the LibDems are for Clegg won by a country mile, he was more assured, polished and appeared sincere. Cameron proved beyond doubt he doesn't believe in anything other than politics and not scaring the horses ( grow some boy and you may stand a chance of running a local council one day).

As for Brown, the man is an out and out liar, shifty, gimp like, spouting tractor stats. Browns closing remarks were the most appalling thing I've ever heard. He basically smeared the tories and then said that Robert posed the most fundamental question of the evening about protecting his job in the NHS. Er Gordon you mean the NHS man who asked about the UK government debt or Robert the TA man who asked about the military???

Matt G said...

grump to desire you only say that as torys won or joint won!!! no other reason!
Im an "average voter" who is still undecided. and after tonights performace, cameron and brown just didnt do enough for me. they are too busy bickering btween eachother about the past. Politics is too much spin, and too much "getting one up on the other side" stop taking the mick out of the other party and leaders, and win the election on policies, not cheep shots!!

Anonymous said...

"The Sky poll gives it to Cameron by a mile".

Rupert Murdoch pulling strings for his pet political puppet David Cameron.

1790 is a bit dated for David Cameron's philosophy for the Conservative party. It is noted that he has adopted the words and ideas from Churchill's Hague Congress speech.

<a href=">Tory Case for the Human Rights Act</a>

Anonymous said...

I only dipped in and out of the program. But if they say there will never ever be another leaders debate, then I will get a bottle of wine out and celebrate.

wild said...

Brown constantly arse licking the lightweight Clegg indicates that he expects Labour to lose the election.

Cameron was by far the most rounded and sophisticated, but he has to decide if beating up Clueless Clegg (and leaving blood on the carpet) will play well with the floating voter.

Most people have already made up their mind that Labour have been a disaster.

I anticipate therefore that the pro-Labour establishment (such as the BBC) will push the Liberal Democrats for all they are worth, given that the Liberals will prop up Labour in a Lib-Lab coalition.

The King of Wrong said...

I scored it as:
Clegg 6
Cameron 8
Brown 5

Nick Clegg did very well - much better than expected, and much better than he should have given his minority standing. He got some good audience interaction, and his position with the cameras was better for the home audience. His style was pretty much textbook, which felt a little forced to me. The Lib Dems will get a big bounce out of this. His body language was all over the place at times, though - hand in his pocket, yawning, choking on his words.

Brown appeared boorish and ignorant, playing cheap political tricks (e.g. trying to get Cameron to either match police spending or deny that he will). Nobody seemed to care about his tractor stats and he just came across as a (rather lame) bully. His debating skills appeared to be straight out of courses with no practice and little skill - the "there are three things..." mantra suggested he's just been on a Think On Your Feet course.

I think you're underestimating Cameron, though. His arguments were strong, the tonality very good and his timing absolutely spot-on. He missed a few open goals, only really going on the attack over Lib Dem funding, but his reaction shot there (knowing eyes and a cheeky grin) sold it. Style-wise he came across well but also natural - he broke some of the 'rules' but generally came across better as a result.

miko said...

Brown predictably shown up for what he is;

a lying unbalanced monster.

But by god,Cameron has got to attack Brown whenever he lies - he just stood there and had an odd look on his face whenever Brown lied (spoke).

Clegg had much better grasp of detail.

Cameron must now practice and keep repeating at the next debate;

"Gordon,you have been Pm or Chancellor in this govt for THIRTEEN years!"

But Brown digs his own grave anyway.

Nigel said...

Brown crap; Cameron surprisingly lacklustre; Clegg halfway decent performance.

As for the post debate spinning, Teresa May by far and away the poorest performer. Which was not a surprise.

Guthrum said...

DIY SOS was great, real people doing something useful

Anonymous said...

@hughflungdatscat seems happy with 5 more years sadist Brown rule. He will throw a couple of ministries across Clegg and cable and bigo 5 more years. Like Guardian by chance?

Patrick said...

dont forget there are 3 debates.

Then this "I agree with Nick" love-in tact may wear thin!

Glass said...

I may be biased as a natural Tory voter but I honestly thought Cameron won the debate. You criticise him for not being aggressive but to me ceding the camera to his opponents when they interrupted, for example, demonstrated a dignity which the other two lacked. Both Brown and Clegg were confrontational, which to my mind, made Cameron appear statesmanlike.

The Lib Dems will now come under greater scrutiny. They get a bounce here from their previous obscurity. Greater scrutiny will eliminate this. We all knew Clegg was the winner from getting equal air time. The question is; did he capitalise. Personally, I think he's only a few percentage points up.

Look forward to the next two and who looked strongest: I'm giving Cameron 10-12% at the GE.

Unknown said...

For Me Nick Clegg won this first round hands down. I was both surprised and inpressed by his performance. And yes, lets discuss trident.100stars

DespairingLiberal said...

One of the odd (and very funny) things that Brown did was to (every now and then) stop and turn to Clegg expectantly, as if waiting to be told what to do!

Cleggie doesn't really merit the warm response audiences have given him, at least based on this performance - but in the final analysis he was a bit less wooden that the other two, so that worked in his favour.

Rewinding the programme on my freesat box and freezing at the start. They all have a look of rigid fear. Cameron looks bloody petrified! Brown has a haunted look. At the end of the show, they all looked much more cheerful. Phew. It's all over.

Mulligan said...

Clegg did well, but then all he really had to do was chip away at the other two, bit of a "regular kind of guy" performance really.

Cameron doesn't want to scare the horses, and let Brown get away with way too much,

meanwhile Gordon's vision of the future, and summary, was the same old, same old attack the Tories rather than actually say what Labour will do.

Thought the end was interesting, clear respect between Clegg and Cameron, whilst obviously somebody had coached Brown to run off and shake hands with everyone in the audience, or perhaps he was handing the collection plate around.

The Purpleline said...

I am shocked at Labours attempts to smear Cameron on using China in those countries with nukes that we need to guard against and have a deterrent.

Trying to cause a diplomatic incident to remain in power, Alistair Campbell should be shot for treason with the rest of the Labour.

Take away our Nukes and there is no longer a place at the UN security council and UK becomes a third rate power, if you want to do good things in the World and push good British values then you need to retain the ultimate weapon.

Only one country has used it and that is America so we hold the moral high ground and have enemies everywhere especially in the Labour party and the CND students of the Libdems.

Basically you can tell how long Liberals have been out of power, they do not understand about nuke politics

Idle Pen Pusher said...

I think
Cameron pipped Clegg

Cogito Dexter said...

I tend to agree - more or less a score draw between Cameron and Clegg, but Clegg's advantage (which I'm fairly sure he'll get) will be at the expense of Labour.

Anonymous said...

There were two things that surprised me on the debate. The first was how positive all three came out, though Brown was a net loser. The second was how much was covered, including the two areas for the other debates - foreign affairs and the economy.

For Cameron, I feel he needs to delve into the economics a bit. Rather than ever-increasing government expenditure boosting the economy, it has become a drag upon it. Also, his major opponent in this debate was Clegg, so the attack in the next debate needs to be in that direction. For instance, plugging tax loopholes of the rich can be a revenue loser, as can a mansion tax. With extremely high levels and complexity of taxation already the revenue gainers will be the tax accountants and lawyers, not the exchequer.

Johnny Norfolk said...

I thought Brown looked the nasty man he is and Cammeron was just far too wet and soft.He needs more fight in him.

John said...

So I wasn't far out with my prediction of your scores. You're becoming so predictable Dale. And as for: "Whenever I watch these debates I try to do it at least in part through the eyes of normal voters", err you are a 'normal' voter having been repeatedly rejected by anyone who has been given the opportunity to vote for you.

Unknown said...

Of course Nick Clegg came out on top. He had an easy ride as he has no legacy to defend.
He also knows his policies will not be under the same level of scrutiny as the conservatives or labour because nobody believes for a moment that he will ever have the opportunity to implement them.

Anonymous said...

Clegg is making a real mistake talking about the conservatives and labour as he does, the very fact that Clegg has a podium on the debate means that clegg is an establishment politician and ‘part of the problem’ he claims the other two parties have made. I don’t think it does Clegg any good doing this at all because the fact of Lab/Lib co-operation in terms of electoral pacts and giving the other party an easy ride has been there for us all to see. The Lib Dems joining cabinet committees with Labour actually shows Clegg is foolish getting into bed with Labour over this. No party was untarnished by expenses or political donations, the Lib Dems have the dreadful Michael Brown affair that still has not been repaid.

David Anthony said...

What's the betting they all look direct into the camera next time?

Iain Dale said...

You really are a prat. You predicted I would say Cameron had won whatever. I didn't. I called it as I saw it. A win for Clegg.

What a self hating person you must be.

Glyn H said...

God Zonks……….
Went to sleep…….Just loaded dishwasher
On way to bed:

Pat a Cake
Pat a cake
Boring man
I would rather have Edward, flipping, Du Cann.

Thorpe may have been bent
But one Bunny to France
Beats 30 Clegg bonks or Browns Diazapam waltz.

Give us some action
These Dudes do me in
I slept better just now than when I’m done in!

Gerry57 said...

Five times I heard Brown say 'let's be honest'. Make of that what you will.

Overall, it seemed to go as expected. Ashcroft got a mention of course. We didn't learn anything new.

So Clegg like Cable is said to have won the debate. So why do only 11 per cent trust them on the economy in recent opinion polls ?

The Liberals don't want to update or replace Trident, so why don't they just invite China, which has an army of 3 million personel and a tyrannical government, to invade us ?

Anonymous said...

Clegg won easily - helped by the presenter (he started with 90% of Cameron's opening speech so Cameron had to waffle when it got to his turn, and several times later) - but he was good enough to win anyhow. Most of the time Dave was too 'nice' when he could have put the boot into Brown - even when he did attack him, as on equipment for the army, he was polite

Anonymous said...

@norman 11.04: "seems happy with 5 more years sadist Brown rule".

When I advocate the Conservative case for the Human Rights Act?

wild said...


Did you send your remarks before reading what Iain Dale wrote? I think you will find that he thought Clegg the winner.

What a bitter little man you are, go back to your sad little life.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your analysis, Iain.

Brown irritated me throughout (nothing new there), but particularly at the beginning, when he kept interrupting Cameron, his grin growing wider as he computed the damage he was doing to Cameron by spoiling his flow.

Vile man. Can't wait to see the back of him.

While I'll be voting UKIP, I hope Camerone holes Brown below the waterline, dooming him forever.

xxxx said...

I loved the cheeky way Cameron waved Clegg back onto the stage to make Brown look weird.

That was the sign of a very sharp mind!

John said...

Wild - you'd be hard pushed to find anyone who didn't think Clegg 'won', so Dale can't say anything else for fear of losing credibility.

And your final comment is rather pathetic.

Iain Dale said...

Which basically means there is nothing I could ever say which you would approve of. I really wish people like you wouldn't read this blog. Your comments add nothing to the debate at all.

Grump to Inspire said...

Matt G. My point about the polls was that they are more indicative of the effect of the debate on the election. 51% on one poll saying that Nick Clegg won the debate is probably accurate on levels of expectation. But 51% won't vote for Lib Dems in the GE. The other questions show more about voting intentions (but not in a pure sense there either). I completely disagree with you about the bickering. David Cameron has to put Gordon Brown in his place more to move many possible attacks on the economy that he ignored, tonight he was too nice. Not enough of the last 13 years. More from Nick Clegg on policy would be nice.

PS Sky now giving GB ahead of DC on the debate....interesting but slightly wrong I would say.

cynicalHighlander said...

Haven't read all your comments yet Iain but as these have returned to being 'Leaders Debates' just goes to show how undemocratic (28th last time I looked) this UK union has evolved.

Legally they are wrong to all of these isles nations as we have a much more diverse make up than these 3 parties.

I didn't watch them as they discount at least 20% of the population which was unfair to all inhabitants of these isles as it did not allow the major population hear what the minor areas had to say.

If from what I have read that was a debate then no wonder the UK is a bankrupt country if thats whats on offer.

John said...

I read your blog for the same reason I read the Daily Mail. Fair play to you for publishing my comments, I will give you that.

Perhaps next time I see you in The Atrium or The City Inn, I should introduce myself and thank you for your tolerance of 'normal voters' like me.

p smith said...

Wow, I hope Cameron's advisers are as clever as the posters on here. Another two performances like that and he might blow this after all.

Rather than watching the debate through the prism of your own prejudices, try and watch it as a swing voter, largely detached from politics and capable of voting Labour one day and Tory the next. Put your vitriolic hatred of Brown and your superior dismissiveness of Clegg aside if that is possible. Iain at least has attempted to do so.

Undoubtedly Clegg came across better than the other two. He engaged the camera, he appeared reasoned and balanced and he dealt more effectively in specifics. Of course most of what he said was bollocks but then you could say that for all 3 of them and all 3 manifestos. This is politics after all.

Cameron's biggest error was to let Brown repeat the line unanswered that Cameron's NI tax cut would damage frontline services. Brown set the landscape for that entire part of the debate and Cameron let him without responding in a cogent and effective manner. Yes, Brown banged the drum in a monotonous fashion but it is all about leaving a message in the public's minds. Cameron left no impression at all. Indeed, I wonder whether Cameron had taken too many lessons from US advisers. In US elections, the optimistic non-confrontational candidate often wins.

The biggest mistake for Cameron now would be to attack Clegg. He should continue to ignore him but Cameron must attack the line that Brown is trying to cast as well making an impassioned case for his programme for government. Not a single mention of the Big Society or his plans for schools. Why not?

It was as if Cameron has gotten so used to having a free ride from the mainstream press that he forgot that he needed to fight. He should bring some outrage at Labour together with some passion for his own policies next time.

Brown by contrast appeared to understand his weaknesses and set his stall out by trying to persuade the audience that the Tories would jeopardise the recovery by cutting too soon. Again, forget the fact that you consider that bunkum. Cameron let it pass unanswered and at times appeared evasive and shrill while Brown surprisingly did not raise his voice at any time as he always does at PMQs.

I scored it a win for Clegg with Brown holding Dave to a surprise draw. Whether any of this changes the end result I doubt very much. A donkey in a blue rosette should manage a majority of 20 or so this time.

weggis said...

"I score it on how they came across to the ordinary punter at home."

I hate to tell you this Iain, but the ordinary punter was down the pub!

Mark Valladares said...


I'm missing something, I assume. In what Sky poll did Cameron win by a mile? As I type, Sky are saying that Cameron came third (Clegg 37%, Brown 32%, Cameron 31%)...

John said...

And as for me adding nothing to the debate on this blog, if it wasn't for me and one or two others like me, there would be no debate on here.

Osama the Nazarene said...

Cameron was far too wooden. Did not smile at all. Allowed the others to interrupt him or the mc gave Clegg and Brown more air time. They also continued whenever their time was up while Cameron stopped immediately.

A number of people are saying it was boring. For me the 90 minutes flew by.

Agree about Cameron's summary at the end.

Cameron seemed to lack ideological conviction. We have new schools & hospitals & £100,000 a year GPs because Brown provided these on the never never. He also was not convincing enough about the deficit but then that is a huge hole in the Tory manifesto unfortunately. He also used far too many folksy examples of people's so called experiences.
All parties want a blank cheque from the electorate to implement savage cuts post election.

Clegg's party is the new CND (as well as Salmond in Scotland). Cameron did make the point about the 17 billion give away by the Lib Dems but I suppose he was advised not to attack Clegg too much.

Brown just lied and lied forcing Cameron, ONCE, to rebut his more blatant lie about the Tories cutting front line services and staff.

Unknown said...

nick clegg always does well in pmqs when given the opportunity.
m not surprised at all.
Cameron is just a slick salesman,the sort you see on a sat afternoon selling cars.
Brown just constantly interrupts.
Clegg has style panache and knows what he is talking about.very impressive.
i was not going to vote perhaps bnp as protest,but now DEFINATLEY nick clegg

Maverick Ways said...

Alternative TV Debate:

HampsteadOwl said...

Less X-Factor than Max Factor - Cameron especially.

Maybe it was my set, but they were all coming over various shades of orange, and so rehearsed and hygenic. that the whole thing resembled nothing so much as a dull night in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

Brown was obviously the loser, so why can't we just eliminate him now and let Clegg and Cameron go head-to-head next time. Preferably with duelling pistols. This is what the new politics should be all about.

Tapestry said...

If Liberal gains are at Labour's expense, Cameron payed a blinder by allowing Clegg to shine and not attacking him too much.

Unknown said...

For me Camerons biggest failing was not challenging Brown properly on his ofy repeated lie that not paying an extra 6 billion in taxes was equivalent to taking 6bn out of the economy.

The poll results suggest that many people do not realise what a mess Brown haas got our finances into.

Unknown said...

Just had GMTV on they had a viewers panel that went strongly for Brown.

Isn't somebody from GMTV standing as a labour candidate?

Alan Douglas said...

I was disappointed that DC did not hammer both Clegg and Brown when they came up with the Tory IHT helps only 3000 top people, when clearly the opposite is true. He should have said that either these 2 don't understand, can't do basic maths, or are deliberately peddling lies, and "Which is it ?" very aggressively.

Rather like he hammered Clegg with the £2.5 million fraud money attack. That is the kind of thing he would be respected for.

I would expect some more aggression from DC next time.

Alan Douglas

Man in a Shed said...

This Lib Dems will feal good this morning ( unless they're in airport purgatory ).

But its a false dawn. Nick Clegg opened a number of key fault lines in the Lib Dem case.

1) The mindless pacifism of their Nuclear ideas. ( They will claim they will provide other nuclear weapons systems, but we all know its pacifism and weakness behind it all ).

2) The Lib Dems will have to answer how their backing for taking on the massive debt hole matches their spending aspirations. ( And lets have none of these tax loophole / efficiency excuses ).

In many parts of the south the Lib Dems stand as Labour proxies - for more public sector, more spending ( whatever their national leadership say ). This just won't hold now as they finally get some scrutiny.

javelin said...

Do you remember "Not the Nine o'clock News"?

They published a Christmas Annual thing one year and on a double spread page they did a spoof copy of The Sun Newspaper. I can't remember all the meaningless stories about celebrities, but in the bottom corner of the page was a small section entitled "Third world war declared"

Well David Cameron said "this Government is borrowing one pound out of every four it spends". That was David's Third World War moment. That means 25% cuts to stop getting into further debt plus 5-10% cuts to pay back what we've borrowed already. If were lucky tax receipts may rise to cover sone of this. Every thing they spoke about was complete and utter cr@p.

A phoney debate about building regulations when a nuclear warhead is in the air.

Ray said...

Shows how wrong we can be, I thought that Clegg was very lightweight, constant repetition, and no depth to the man, out of his depth. But apparently he was good, or was he ? are the given results just a demonstration of where the votes go when you are disaffected ? Most of Cleggs votes came from unhappy Brown voters and a few unhappy tories, will they go that way when faced with the real vote ?. Dave should have been more aggressive especially with Clegg and when it comes to Brown I think a more avuncular attitude full of pity and eyes cast to the ceiling would really wind him up.

Cynic said...

Gordon sounded like Nixon and made the same mistake. If we want the policies and Clegg and Labour have the same views why not take Clegg and avoid the misery of more Gordon

Cynic said...

I think Cameron's objective was simple. To dispel the 'toff' accusations. He delivered in spades and came across as warm and human. That's what voters will remember. This was about personality and voter interaction, not policy. As Gordon doesn't do human he missed that bit.

Victor, NW Kent said...

David Cameron did not do well. His choice and delivery of anecdotes was poor and their delivery botched in each case. Since they had no ring of truth they were hard to remember.

He was flustered by Brown's challenge on police numbers and on cancer times. Since these were surely going to be introduced he should have been prepared and aware.

Simple but attacking answers - "Gordon, you have never kept a manifesto pledge so why should voters believe you on police". "You talk about 1000 vehicles and extra helicopters - they may be arriving now. I want to know why they were not there long ago"?

Against Clegg he seemed to be amazed that Nicky was commanding part of the stage. Clegg got way with almost every silly promise unchallenged.

When Brown kept trying to ally with Nick he could have reused a gag he has used effectively before. "Gordon, perhaps you should move over here so that you can hold Nick's hand".

But the anecdotes were dire.

Windsor Tripehound said...

I wonder whether I was watching the same programme as the majority of posters here. To me Clegg came across as artificial and a bit shrill.

It also struck me that if a total outsider, with no knowledge of UK politics, were to have watched the programme they would have come away with the impression that Cameron was the incumbent Prime Minister and that Brown and Clegg were the opposition leaders hell-bent on attacking him.

Unknown said...

I thought that Clegg came across very well but some of his answers last night were frankly pathetic.

On Education: “We will provide class sizes of 20 in primary schools and 16 in secondary schools.”

So you’re going to double the number of teachers?

How are you going to pay for that?

How are you going to get that many more well-qualified teachers without standards dropping sharply?

And where are these smaller classes going to learn?

Are you going to double the number of classrooms? Build many more schools?

And where is that budget for that coming from then?

And you’re going to ask teachers to teach evenings and saturday morning lessons? When will they have time to get marking and preperation done?

Talk about style over substance. Why aren’t the Lib Dems’ policies scrutinised as the other parties?

Dungeekin said...

That bloke off the Lib Dems definitely won it.

Y'know, another couple of performances like that and people might be able to remember who he is.


Nigel said...

A few more thoughts on the debate -

Clegg managed very effectively to pull off the trick of criticizing the other two for spending all their time slagging each other off, while doing much the same himself. Can't be allowed to get away with this in the next two debates.

On nuclear policy, to an uninformed observer, Liberal policy appeared to be scrap Trident, full stop. Several people I spoke to afterwards were genuinely astonished to hear that they propose to replace it with a "cheaper" system.
I suspect this ambiguity is deliberate, as it gives them full credit for the cost saving while ignoring the costs of whatever system they come up with. It also makes them more attractive to the unilateralists.

The Tories need urgently to skewer the LibDem spending plans. Cameron tried briefly during the debate, but made little impact; Clegg based much of his argument on their "costings" in the manifesto. You and I know that those costings are based on fantasy figures (£5 billion from 'cracking down on tax avoidance ? Bilge), but again, to the naive observer, Clegg was allowed to have the best of this argument.

Oh, and Brown was crap, and will continue to be so. His answer to everything was 'money'. Cameron needs a couple of short putdowns for him, so that he has time for some detailed questioning of Clegg.
No one managed to ask Clegg an awkward question and put him on the spot; Cameron needs to do so.

Matthew Hewitt said...

Where I was disappointed in cameron is that he didn't take Brown on when he parroted the mantra that the recovery is at risk if there is any reduction in public spending. Economic theory when I studied it held that the government leving taxes ultimately takes growth out of the economy and the best way to promote growth is to allow private business to grow. Unfortunately, all parties seem to be stuck in the notion that the state simply keeps on growing...

Matthew Hewitt said...

Where I was disappointed in cameron is that he didn't take Brown on when he parroted the mantra that the recovery is at risk if there is any reduction in public spending. Economic theory when I studied it held that the government leving taxes ultimately takes growth out of the economy and the best way to promote growth is to allow private business to grow. Unfortunately, all parties seem to be stuck in the notion that the state simply keeps on growing...

Paddy Briggs said...


Did you not see this? From Sky News...

"The instant poll is giving feedback of the three televised debates, courtesy of Sky News and FizzBack, who are surveying a panel of more than 10,000 people by text message.

In the first of the three showdowns, Nick Clegg won 37% of the vote, Gordon Brown 32% and David Cameron 31%."

JMB said...

There were some comments about the number of times that Clegg mentioned Sheffield, his own constituency.

I thought there was a convention (rule?) that candidates who were also spokesmen for their party, and so given national exposure on the media, did not mention their own constituency because it gives them an unfair advantage over other candidates.

Anonymous said...


John's comment about seeing you in the City Inn or the Atrium is typical Labourite bullying tactics. I get this kind of crap from local Labour members on my blog and elsewhere. It implies that you are being watched and can be "got at" at anytime.

Steve said...

I listened on Radio 4 rather than watched on the TV. I thought Clegg emerged as 'winner', but not by a huge margin - by no means by the type of margin that those who viewed the TV broadcast claim.

Other observations:

- There were significant periods when Clegg was silent. Presumably physical presence/body language/facial expression etc compensated for that on TV, but on radio silence is silence.

- Cameron, I thought, came across poorly on radio. He just didn't sound 'convincing' and the references to voters he'd met, the eulogising of the armed forces, the way he shoehorned in an unecessary reference to his dead child etc all came across as very false in the absence of body language. His was the most disappointing performance of the 3, given the weight of expectation (encouraged by the Conservatives until late in the day) beforehand.

- Brown on Radio was . . . exactly as expected really: dull, stilted, inarticulate, forced jocularity etc etc. Much like his appearances on the Today prog and at Question-Time. But the weight of expectation on him was far less than on Cameron so whilst his performance was poor, it didn't seem as poor as Cameron's.

- The highlight for me was Brown on Law & Order. With no visuals, on the radio version I could've sworn he promised to deliver "more priests on the street". Now THAT would be a novel policy ...

Anonymous said...

@Paddy Briggs. are you Paddy pantsdown sorry Paddy Ashdown? All this crap from the Libdems that given a hung parliament they will temper the excesses of either paty is stuff and nonsense. Even with their 30% poll rating after this X-factor madness, the Mail calculates 100 seats for them with the other two party roughly getting about 250+. Libdems as the Scottish experience demonstrates are hungry for cabinet positions. Given their propensity to support Labour and with Cable's Labour origin, they cannot really negotiate as Brown can well form a minority govt and challenge Libdems to vote him down. With 100 seats, Libdems if cause another election are not going to get that many seats again. Clegg and Cable will quietly go with Brown as the PM. That was what Scottish Libdem leader did , kept his ministerial post as deputy first minister and nodded whatever Labour said. later for years.