Friday, 16 April 2010

Yo it's Nick

In my view, and that of all other commentators I have heard, Nick Clegg was the clear winner in last night's leaders' debate. I am not a great fan of Nick Clegg: I think he is rather lightweight. He does not perform well at Prime Minister's Questions, although it is not an easy situation for him as he has to struggle to be heard and as a result can seem to hector. In this format he was much better: he had an opportunity and seized it.

He tried to answer the question that the member of the audience had asked. He also looked at the other leaders when they were speaking. Of course, both of them were aware that they might need his support after a general election, hence the repetition of 'I agree with Nick'. A good point made on Radio 5 this morning was that it's rather like a newly promoted team in the Premiership. They often do well in their first season, or at least the first half of it, because no one knows how to play them. The other leaders will have to work out how to deal with Clegg before the next two debates.

I thought that Dave Cameron's body language was a bit problematic. His facial expression was a mixture of puzzlement and petulance when he wasn't speaking. But his answers were relatively straightforward and clear and focus group evidence suggests that he did well on the subterranean issue of immigration.

I thought that Gordon Brown was stiff and wooden to start with and gave too much detail in his answers. He gained in confidence when he started to talk about the economy and it was here that Dave was in most difficulty in explaining how he was going to pay for everything he planned to do and cut the deficit.

I didn't learn anything new about the stances of the parties and I wonder of 90 minutes may have been long for most voters. It's a shame that members of the audience aren't allowed to come back and say their questions haven't been answered.

There was no deal breaker here between the two main parties. No one made a gaffe or gave a really memorable soundbite. Nick Clegg increased the chances of the Lib Dems holding most of their seats and winning one or two more.


Sam S said...

Yes, I remember when Nick Clegg came to Rugby during the leadership contest in 2007 - interviewing him was like speaking to computer with four set answers, just endless sound-bites. No wonder he went from clear favourite to winning by a mere 512 votes.

Even last night and his claim to honesty (in between moments of drifting off), he kept repeating the same point - "I'm going to give it to you straight" without actually being challenged on what was going to be given straight. As DC and GB will realise, letting Clegg off the hook is rather self-defeating, despite the potential advantage for Labour in the Marginals.

Anonymous said...

Clegg was extremely attentive to the audiance and the fact they were in Manchester.

He seemed to answer more of the questions properly and directly than the other two... saying what he will do and how he will do it.

Anonymous said...

Is there now a liklihood of a hung Parliament - thus causing economic chaos in terms of the debt markets etc?

Wyn Grant said...

There is certainly a possibility of a hung Parliament, although it is Labour that has suffered initially from a rise in support for the Lib Dems. Why the markets should react negatively is a bit of a mystery. What always seems to be missed is (i) that the largest party would face a fragmented opposition, (ii) it should be possible to do a tacit deal with some of them, (iii) Britain has a system of strong executive government which allows the government to take many decisions without reference to Parliament