Friday 16 April 2010

The first election debate

So, after this week's first Election debate between the three main political leaders, it's Nick Clegg who's emerged as the unanimous winner!

His performance was the most impressive, and the key to his success was making the most of the position that he and the Lib Dems currently hold in this election campaign.

Will it transfer into votes though? Quite possibly. I've been predicting a hung parliament since the beginning of the year and I'm now even more convinced following this week's debate.

Overall I enjoyed the first leadership debate in this country. At first I thought 90 minutes might be too long and people would get bored, but I was surprised at how quickly the time went.

What I would liked to have seen was more audience participation, with audience members being able to directly ask questions in response to the answers given by the leaders, just like they do on the BBC's Question Time. There's more spontaneity in that way, things are less predictable, and there's more direct interaction between the leaders and the public.

The viewing figures of almost 10 million were also really impressive. These debates represent for me the further Americanisation of British politics, something I'm not overly keen on (do we really need to know everything about the wives of the three leaders?)

But with this debate and the two further ones planned, it's really given the media and the public a focal point for the elections, showing that politics can be of interest if presented in the right way.

As for the performance of the leaders, I actually thought that all three performed quite well overall. Gordon Brown was better than I expected, and although opinion polls showed he was third, I think that's more to do with his general unpopularity.

David Cameron did ok, but if there was a loser on Thursday night then it was him. He's the favourite, and for the Conservatives this really should be their election. Last week, I spoke about 'gut feelings' in relation to politics and elections, and with Cameron my gut feeling is that he still isn't quite convincing enough people.

As for Nick Clegg the most impressive thing for me is that he and the Lib Dems are taking advantaging of the timing of this election.

There's an apathy about the two main parties. Not necessarily towards politics and voting but about Labour and Conservatives. I have to admit I feel it myself.

I've always been really into politics, I've voted in every election I've been able to since 97, but there's even a part of me that thinks that it won't make a difference who wins on May 6. It's a strange feeling as I'm not used to it.

Nick Clegg exploited the Lib Dems role of not being the other two main parties, They're something different and new. Suddenly a vote for the Lib Dems represents real 'change' a term which is quickly becoming a political cliche after Obama's presidential win.

The debate showed that Nick Clegg has emerged as a political leader on the national stage. A year ago I thought he was being totally overshadowed by Vince Cable, but he's performing well and making the most out the current political situation.

The Lib Dems are in a unique position at the moment with people tired and not convinced with the two main parties. They still have to take advantage of this position, and this is what Clegg has successfully done so far.

With another two of these debates, it's going to be interesting to see how the Lib Dems approach next week's debate. I think they'll stick to the same strategy.

The pressure is on the main two, in particular David Cameron. Labour are already making signals about how much they have in common with the Lib Dems, how will Cameron and the Tories react to this?

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