In my view the pre-election debate is an excellent idea. Today in the first debate it put the politicians in the middle of the arena to face the UK public for the first time.
Since it was a live debate with audience questions and a very strict presenter the politicians were not able to get away by arguing and making unrealistic claims like a bunch of 10 year old kids.
Now the three personalities standing in the firing line Nick Clegg from Liberal Democrats, David Cameron from the Conservatives and Gordon Brown from Labour are quite impressive.
Gordon Brown, starting with the disadvantage of having faced some of the toughest times ever seen, brings a certain mature, almost elderly, calm and solidity. After having faced the pressure he appears as a person who has seen and done it all. Not a very good feeling to give out if you are running for four more years as the leader of the country. The new leader needs to have some fire in him, I believe.
David Cameron was the Poet Parrot in th debate. Whenever he was asked a question he started by confirming the issues raised in the question were important and valid (duh! David that is why they asked the question!) and then mixed in words which would befit a poet writing a song to raise the moral of troops on the frontline… something like ‘we shall over come’. There were certain moments in the debate when both Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg were ganging up against him and he looked positively peeved.
Nick Clegg was the winner of the debate for me. He did appear to tackle the questions head on with some common sense and logic. He smashed his earlier image of being a ‘radical’ and emerged as a person with some real ideas and thoughts on how to run the country out of troubled times. He made sure that the public sees Lib Dem as a real option and not just a fringe party which is in there just to kick down the established order.
For their closing statement Gordon Brown played the roles of a grandfather talking about things to come. David Cameron recited a few rousing lines as to why Conservatives and Nick Clegg spread some fairydust around trying hard to make people believe that Lib Dem are a real option.
The other day I heard on Radio Four someone saying that if Nick Clegg won the elections he would be the most surprised man in UK. After today’s debat he seems to have come one step closer to ensuring that Lib Dems are seen a real alternative. I hope he doesn”t forget that sometimes trying too hard can leave you with a red face. 😉
My prediction after the first debate: Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown ganging up to form the next government.