As the debate started last night our doorbell rang and our dinner guests arrived. So like much of the population I am basing my views of the Leaders Debate from last night on the media and social media reaction.
Wow what a variety of verdicts! As usual the spin from each party has their leader ‘as the clear winner’, so we can sort of discount them. Then we have the political commentators who follow these things carefully. I am a Radio5 Live listener so get most of my reaction from the BBC. I have to say listening to Piennar and radio phone in to about 1am this morning it seemed people were largely impressed by most of the candidates! It did seem as though more people were ‘impressed’ by Sturgeon, but I guess this is a little bit like the Clegg effect in 2010. Let’s be honest most people in England don’t see much of Sturgeon (we always seem to get Sammond!) and she was able to play the outsider in the same way as Clegg. So whilst she didn’t win every public poll outright she was at or near the top.
After this it does appear that Milliband slightly outperformed Cameron but again there was no killer blow. Cameron went for safety first and was underwhelming. The Greens didn’t crash as was partly expected after some really poor media showings from Bennett so they were feeling contented.
I guess the biggest loser was Farage. When the TV debates were being discussed UKIP saw this as their opportunity to make a break through and be on an equal par with the main political parties. As you see from the polls their bubble has burst somewhat and they are slowly slipping backwards as people in polls do seem to be gravitating back to the main parties (They were 37-35 today in one poll Tory/Lab). Suddenly there is no ‘shock’ value from Farage. Daily we are shocked by the sheer stupidity of their candidates, MPs and MEPs. So even when Farage tried the HIV-NHS shock tactic he was not heard outside the dog whistle groups he was aiming at. People have woken up to UKIP and whilst there is a core vote for them the majority of the population is not neutral on their stance – they actively despise them. And we are not talking about a London liberal elite. In the Ashcroft polling 78% of people actively dislike UKIP!
Finally is anybody talking about Clegg at all today? He had one moment when he had a go at Miliband for the causing the global recession, which of course is nonsense but about the only card he has left. So nobody was saying we ‘agree with Nick’ last night. I think he and his party are in real trouble not just in %points in the polling but in being taken seriously again in the next parliament. The disdain for the party is back to its pre 2010 best.
The TV debates still cause too much fuss for me from the media but they love the format.
One final point from last night. How stupid does the Sun headline look – claiming Miliband had lost the election last night – by coming ahead in several of the post debate polls? We know the Sun, Telegrapgh have a real agenda to get Cameron back into No10 but you would think even just for their own integrity editors and journalists would not be so obviously partisan to the point its pure parody. I am not sure even the Party HQs would put out such cringe worthy headlines.