Friday, 16 April 2010

It Took Only 50 Years But.....

I haven't seen the viewing figures, but last night was surely remarkable for being the moment when political debate reached out to the non-anoraks (and yes, I'm in the anorak category here), and became prime-time viewing. About time too -it's taken a mere 50 years to agree the rules after all....

Everyone's pretty clear that Clegg won the night. To an extent, the Lib Dems were inevitably going to be the big winners, just due to finally getting the same amount of airtime as the two bigger parties. But Clegg certainly seemed the most assured, and managed to pull off the classic trick of being Mr Reasonable in a three-way argument.

I've commented to PR Week on what I thought about Cameron's performance -good beginning, strong ending, but no theme or passion in the middle. The election's his to lose, so there'll be relief in CCHQ that he didn't lose it last night. But I think there'll also be disappointment.

As for Brown, well he was solid, he was just the right side of aggressive, and he got the only laugh of the evening. It wasn't, though, the game changer he needs.

The one great disappointment though was surely the set. It was, well, awful. I can't remember who it was that made the comparison last night, but it was more reminiscent of Going For Gold than of the US Presidential model it was supposed to emulate.

Two final comments. It was interesting -and it was insightful- but televised debates very rarely change the dynamic of elections. They more often serve to entrench the views we have already.

There's (rightly) much talk of how the US ones work, but the last time a debate changed the course of an election must be Carter-Reagan. And the second point is the one made by Stephan Shakespeare at You Gov. Polls immediately after such events often don't always reflect what ends up being the settled view. And if you doubt that, google the Carter Ford 1976 debate, how it was initially reported, and how it ended up being rated.

Roll on round two....

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