The political debates
Now they are over...
For the first time in UK history the leaders of the 3 main political parties have held live TV debates. Now they are over which leader and which party has the momentum going into the election?
Looking at Labour first I feel that even agreeing to the debates was the act of a desperate Prime Minister who felt he had nothing to lose. Gordon Brown has never been a man about style. He has always been about substance. TV debates were always going to favour the leader who could present himself in the best light. the most style and sincerity. These kind of debates become a popularity contest on the individuals presenting ability rather than focusing on the substance of the presentation. This is one thing that the debates highlighted; Even when Gordon Brown says the right things the populous either don't care or disbelieve. Therefore, expectations going into the 3 debates must have been fairly low and although Mr Brown did not perform as badly as would have been feared he did not exceed expectation. Based on the realisation that Labour will not win the election, Labour remain un-votable,
Conservative, on the other hand were the party with everything to lose. Way ahead in the polls going into the debates and with a leader in David Cameron that was known to be an extremely proficient speaker, Conservatives were brave to agree to participate. David Cameron achieved very little through the course of the 3 debates. He did not perform as well as expected but not poorly enough to threaten his election campaign. He and the Conservatives remain ahead in the polls and are still favourites to win the election; if they can avoid a hung parliament. The main negative point for the conservative is that a hung parliament has become a more probable result now the election has become a 3 horse race.
Liberal Democrats are the opposite to the Conservative. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain. The relatively untested party were not seriusly on the political radar going into the debates however, their very inclusion gave them credibility and made Nick Clegg a household name. Based on the debates themselves Nick Clegg did not perform much better than the other leaders but based on expectations and based on public perceptions prior to the debates, Nick Clegg was a revelation and can be viewed as the clear winner of the debates. The Lib Dems are now a real viable voting alternative for the electorate and for the first time in recent history an upset is believable.
The other points of interest from the debates was the backroom post responses to the debates from the parties other ministers. Of course each minister tried to convince the viewing public that their man won, however, again the Liberal Democrats came off strongly. With individuals such as ex-leader Paddy Ashdown waiting in the wings the image of a strong party was only enhance. in contrast, the abilities of the Labour ministers only emphasised Gordon Brown's weaknesses in debate while the Conservative ministers were overshadowed by Davis Cameron making the party as a whole look inconstant.
Overall it is clear that the debates have been of most benefit to the Lib Dems but due to where all three parties were before the debates started it is doubtful if the Lib Dems received enough of a push to cause an upset, thus the steady but unspectacular Tories remain favourites.