Friday, April 3, 2015


Clearly it's possible to take away anything you like, in spinning the winners and losers in last night's election debate. But I don't think you can say it was too short for the contenders to have their say. The trouble was, they came with very little to say, and little willingness to debate, which to my mind, means building an argument in response to other's assertions and questions.

David Cameron had "sticking to the plan" and a slightly rueful look in cutaways. Was he looking Prime Ministerial or hurt and surprised when the others said he wasn't very good ?

Ed Miliband, on splayed legs, had a smiley calm, which I hope wasn't chemically induced. He said "working" rather than "hard-working", and started too many turns to the camera with "Look".

Nick Clegg had borrowed James Landale's imaginary football to shape with his hands, and whatever difference he offered in 2010, had disappeared, as he shuffled on a patch of now-imaginary middle ground.

Nigel Farage was either loathsome or soopah, depending on your point of view. What was entertaining was that he could finger-wag at the blokes, but all three women bettered him at one time or another. Leanne Wood, for Plaid, looked a little like she was on her way to a second marriage hen night, in one of Manchester's loucher clubs. I'm not suggesting she had been pre-loading, and she managed to make it sound like Plaid mattered, which is a hard trick.

Nicola Sturgeon, lauded in the papers and post-match polls, proved to me that she's been well-mentored by Alex Salmond, and is every bit as ruthless in debate. Is that nice or nasty ?

Natalie Bennett had massively improved, and offered more factoids on all subjects than any of the others. However, in getting more policy across, more people might have been surprised by the hippier bits. She remains Australian.

Julie Etchingham was poor. In the debate sections, no-one really knew when she said a name whether it was an instruction to speak or shut-up - and so she was largely ignored, as the persistent won through, whether they had anything new to say, or just wanted to recycle one of the sound-bites they'd used a little earlier.

Ed won the bit at the end, by going to shake hands with the front row of the audience. I think Nathalie thought harder about shaking Nigel's hand than did Dave, but they both did it.

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