The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

The Second Debate Post-Mortem

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 22, 2010 @ 22:52

Sky definitely had a better set than ITV, but that was the only winner in their debate...

Watching the live poll results coming in on the Angus Reid website has been very illuminating.

I genuinely believe that Nick Clegg won the second debate. Brown was his usual self, never any different. He just does not look comfortable, and bores me to tears. He has no life or vigour. He does not radiate the change the country apparently wants according to opinion polls. He also shamelessly stole winning lines from Nick Clegg from last week. An embarrassment as prime minister. No thanks.

David Cameron was far more aggressive this time. He performed much more strongly, in my opinion. He too was his usual self. It was the Cameron I expected to turn up last week. He is articulate. He has good lines ready at the drop of a hat.

But looking purely at the reaction shots, looking at his behaviour, expressions, mannerisms – all of this, bear in mind, that most voters do – he never seems right. He seems agitated. Angry, even. The furrowed brow. The insincere, patrician tone.

On policy, Cameron and Brown did indeed choose to gang up Clegg. It worked in some respects. Brown had pre-scripted lines to use on Clegg. They’d been planning the Trident attack for a week. It seems, however, they’ve done it in such a way that allowed them to get away with it. It was more subtle and undermining his authority. A little patronising too.

Meanwhile, Clegg didn’t attack the rubbish robustly enough. He allowed Brown to get away with nonsense accusations of anti-Americanism, and when Adam Boulton disgracefully asked a personal question (against the rules) to Nick Clegg, he didn’t take the opportunity to destroy the allegation piece by piece. And he failed to remind everyone that it was the Tories who broke the link between pensions and earnings.

I think, on balance, the three of them all had a decent debate. Clegg hasn’t secured a major victory simply because the others have raised their game to such a level. That is bearing out in the polls. A YouGov one giving it to Cameron (which Sky dutifully gave huge prominence to), a ComRes one giving it to Clegg, and Angus Reid very finely balanced. More will surely follow.

But the biggest loser, tonight, I think was Sky.

The debate itself was more enjoyable this week, and yet the questions were appalling. The ones in the international section were an utter bore. Adam Boulton persisted with the Pope one despite it being a total non-issue. He was far too hands off and allowed too much squabbling, deviation and repetition. And why another question on immigration? Where was the specific question on Trident? Why were the leaders constantly allowed to go on ludicrous tangents without being brought back into line?

And that was what annoyed me. I’m pretty certain that Clegg was the only one who constantly brought the issue back to whatever it was the questioner asked. It was much more sincere, it was much more genuine, and felt like he was trying to engage with them. It felt like he really passionately cared about them, and his enthusiasm for public service was infectious. He finished extremely strongly, making up for a couple of verbal wobbles in the middle.

That doesn’t seem to have got fully across though. The nation, despite polls to the contrary, really does enjoy negativity. It’s clear that Brown and Cameron’s strategy of attacking the Clegg they embraced so strongly last week has had resonance.

But that’s the public for you. Very fickle. You can see that by watching the wiggly lines, which I’ve just done for 15 minutes on ITV! There’s always an immediate spike whenever someone injects a note of humanity into their speech. Either a friendly gesture, a smile, a pause for thought, a reflection, or even using normal turns of phrases.

Cameron will get the plaudits for this debate. He did a much better job, and perhaps for that he deserves the win.

But one thing it has done, is confirm that this is a very wide open race, temper those wild Lib Dem expectations, and maybe give the opportunity to surprise once more in the final bout…

Viewers? 8m maximum. 6m average. Something like that. We’ll see…

UPDATE – 23/4/10: Turns out only 4m people watched it after all. But that just means even more people will rely on the media to tell them “who won”. Bad.

Advertisements

One Response to “The Second Debate Post-Mortem”

  1. I agree with you about Sky. It shows what a second-rate outfit they are. Adam Boulton was completely useless, clumsy and inappropriate at times. Who was in charge of sound? Each one of them was banging his lectern, which hadn’t been thought through properly. There were other background noises and very poor mixing. Well below par.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: