Friday, April 16, 2010

The first TV debate

It's been interesting reading responses to the TV debates, I can't help feeling we were all watching something different (but then we all bring our own biases to the event however much we try to be objective).

Anyway, here's my take. I thought Clegg was seriously good at the opening speech, he looked directly at the camera and the camera seemed to get closer, allowing his head and shoulders to fill the screen - and it helps that he's very good-looking. Our Gord by contrast approached the opening like a speech, looking at the different parts of the audience, but this didn't work on TV, he appeared to be looking away to his left. "Oh no", I said, "Gord's blown it". "Wait", said my other half, "you can't judge within five seconds". Then he said, "I don't like Clegg". "Why?", I said, "he's doing well." "Don't know", he said, "stop talking over the debate".

Then to my relief, Gord did improve substantially. The cameras moved back a little while the debate proceeded so it didn't matter so much that he couldn't see where they were. I thought he was really good on the need to keep support for the economy going. His best asset was his voice. It's nice and low and rumbly and reassuring. He was also best when he had his grumpy face on.

Cameron was, well, Cameron. He kept mentioning his dead son over and over, and it started to grate. And he did the "I once met a black man" thing that Tories used to do in the 1990's, but which we thought they'd all grown out of (clearly not). I thought he struggled with the questions - all the questions from the audience were on the lines of "why arn't you spending more on the police/education/elderly who need nursing/the troops". They were clearly demanding more, whether they realised it or not. It meant that Cameron struggled because he appeared to be promising to deliver it all without any money and while cutting tax.

Nick Clegg started to lose the plot halfway through - he waffled, came across juvenile and a little patronising. "Cocky", said my other half. I had to agree - you wouldn't make him prime minister no matter how much you liked him. He also went on about Trident too much, irritating my other half; "Of course we can afford a bomb over 25 years". Now he had something substantial to pin his dislike of Clegg on.

Then we went online to see what everyone was saying and found to our surprise that it had been called for Clegg.

I'm not sure. I think women would have liked him but men would have found him irritating (based on my sample at home). Brown exceeded expectations and improved as things went on. Cameron was bland and evasive; if you liked him before you wouldn't have minded, if you disliked him before, this would have been reinforced. He was no JFK though (and i note he seems unable to curb his vain streak; giant Kim-Jong-il-type posters of himself, imagining himself to be Kennedy, this kind of self-importance doesn't play with the British electorate).

It will be interesting to see what the opinion polls make of it in a day or so. Labour's 31/32% support in current polls is from people who are sticking with the party despite the massive personal attacks on Brown these last three years. So I'm not expecting that to change much (especially as Brown's performance was better than normal). Many potential Tory voters though actually bought the Dave-is-the-new-JFK thing, and they will have been surprised to find he is not.

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