Friday 3 April 2015

Who won the seven leaders' debate?

From the point of view of someone who wants to see the Tories out of office next month, here is my take on the seven leaders' debate that took place last night.

Nigel Farage won the event by my reckoning. Alone amongst today's party leaders he is used to making soapbox style public speeches, often to audiences that have been infiltrated by the SWP's mentally defective membership. He got his points across clearly, with the obvious aim of trying to energise his base and stop the rot in his party's poll ratings. I particularly liked the way that he dealt with Nicola Sturgeon's jibe that he probably blamed foreigners for everything. Instead of shouting back he just grinned and shook his head, leading the viewers to conclude that she had just lost the plot with that one.

Sturgeon came in a close second to Farage, and made a direct appeal to the rest of the UK. The message was that Labour voters in England and Wales can relax as her SNP will work with Labour to ensure that the Tories will be out of office next month. She played down the whole independence schtick, and concentrated on putting forward anti-austerity policies that will play in Labour's Scottish heartlands. Those polices will also play in Labour's English seats, so the subliminal message was that it is OK to vote for Labour south of the River Tweed because Auntie Nicola will make sure that Labour people get more of what they want from a Labour government kept in power by her gang.

Funnily enough, it was interesting to see how neither Sturgeon nor Ed Miliband attacked each other directly. That fact leads to the obvious conclusion that talks about talks, at least, have already begun between the two parties. 

I put Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru as joint second with Sturgeon, but everyone else had her way down the list. She ignored the rest of the country and played directly to her Welsh voters, which is fair enough for a party that is trailing UKIP in the Welsh opinion polls. I liked the way that she always called her party Plaid Cymru - the party of Wales, as that was an obvious attempt to get away from her Welsh language heartland and appeal to the bulk of the population in Wales who are quite happy to speak English. Leading on from that she concentrated on economic matters rather than linguistic or cultural ones, but whether that will be enough to persuade the bulk of the population to come onside is another matter. It was a great performance though.

Ed Miliband was next in my list. First of all he came over as thoughtful and articulate, but he was let down by the need as Labour sees it to appeal to the English aspirational scrote vote in the Midlands and South. However, he overcame the Tory smear that he is little more than a weird geek, and emerged as a personable bloke that people could warm to as he spoke. That said, he was seen to either swallow hard or gulp, seemingly in response to a jibe from Cameron. It may have been coincidental, but the image creates the narrative, and Miliband really needs to work on things like that to ensure they don't happen too often.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg spent the night arguing about which of them will get the dog and video collection in the divorce settlement. Clegg emerged as the more personable of the two, with Cameron coming over as a man who is going through the motions. I suspect he knows that his leadership will end along with his time in office next month.

Finally we had Natalie Bennett of the Greens who was as amateurish and appalling as ever. The Green vote is sagging and if there is any justice in the world after that performance it will now go into free-fall.

To conclude, Farage probably did more than enough to bolster his sagging vote, which should keep enough Tory voters inside the UKIP tent and help Labour enormously. Sturgeon and Miliband looked forward to a Labour government backed by the SNP, and together they did nothing to frighten anyone away from that prospect. Wood did nothing to rock that boat which means that there will be another three or so anti-Tory seats in Wales that will back Miliband. Finally, the threat to Labour from the posturing Green ninnies probably ended as just about everyone in the country realised how silly they are.

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