Round two of the leader’s debate ended last night with the two “old party” leaders, David Cameron and Gordon Brown, catching up with Nick Clegg’s original lead. The second debate saw a more quickly paced three-way duel of policies and personalities.
Again, the conservatives were seen to be making poorly thought out moves to sway voters towards them. Last week we saw childish posters depicting Gordon Brown as royalty. This week saw what Peter Madelson described as a”disgusting” and shocking smear attempt, whereby surprise surprise, Nick Clegg was the target…
As I anticipated, Clegg was positioned in the middle this week, and bore the brunt of oppositional offences that were completely lacking in last week’s debate. Cameron and Brown both upped their game, now being much more emphatic, and addressing the camera, resulting quite rightly to a very close series of instant polls.
On the European Union, Brown opened brilliantly with a very convincing argument for being in there. “Jobs”, he strongly claims, is the simple answer. On the other hand, Cameron appealed perfectly to EU skeptics, retorting that far too much control and power over the country is being given away to the EU. To which, Brown again responded very impressively and emphatically, arguing passionately that collaboration within the EU is required for economic recovery – the classic Labour response to the economy. Brown not only well-handled the issue of the EU, but he also held the strongest answers on Afghanistan, giving a necessary (given recent criticism over troop’s equipment), bold overview of Britain’s mission.
But of course not all was good from Brown, he managed to throw a cringeworthingly awful blow to both Cameron and Clegg, claiming that they were “like his two boys fighting in the bath”, in an obvious attempt to separate himself from the other two parties in exactly the same way as Clegg had so successfully done last week. “I think that one sounded better in the rehearsal,” quipped Clegg. Alongside that, Brown’s cheeky grin all too often surfaces at inappropriate moments, giving the false sense that he’s detached from the issues at stake.
The question on the environment was interestingly made personal; enquiring each of the leader’s green policies, whilst rooting for hypocrisy. Brown responded that he uses the train, Cameron said that he uses decent house insulation (!) and Clegg tried to honestly admit that he could do more. At the “after show party” Sky News seemed to play an amusing game of “politician roulette”, doing an awesome job of failing to capture any depth and policies of the people involved. For some reason, the most popular question in the press rooms was on religion, catholicism and the pope – yet this was the only issue where all three party leaders agreed!
The debates seem to be all about creating as much hype, contention and unsettlement within the electorate before an election. The election is now a three horse race whereby one of the horses has to run twice as far in order to win than the other two. A fair, diplomatic election..?