Thursday, 15 April 2010


I'm obviously biased but that aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the leaders' debate which has just ended on ITV. Most importantly it was a useful discussion between the leaders and I trust that anyone watching the programme would have got a very good idea about what the three parties stand for.

I would compliment Gordon Brown for his performance. Mr Brown is not a natural communicator but he acquitted himself well and he landed a few good blows on David Cameron. It was gratifying, if perhaps a trifle embarrassing, for any Lib Dem to see how much Mr Brown sought to align himself with Nick Clegg, suggesting regularly, if rather disingenuously, that Nick agreed with him, rather than Gordon Brown having become a late convert to many Lib Dem causes such as an elected House of Lords and a fair voting system. Mr Brown had the most to lose and I imagine he will be pleased with his performance.

Mr Cameron is a confident speaker and he was naturally assured in his demeanour but his performance was fatally weakened by the lack of detail the Conservatives are able to offer in their election campaign and manifesto. The Conservatives will doubtless claim victory on behalf of Mr Cameron but I doubt he will have persuaded many voters with this display.

It was quite exciting for a Lib Dem candidate such as me to hear Nick Robinson on the BBC making much of Nick Clegg's performance and noting that the comment he noticed the most came from both David Cameron and Gordon Brown saying 'I agree with Nick'. I am entirely partial but I am very pleased with Nick Clegg's confidence, his knowledge of the issues faced and his ability to engage with the audience. And so, it seems, are many viewers and commentators.

However, the overall conclusion must be that the naysayers have been proven completely wrong. This was good, intelligent, useful television with everything to recommend it. I hope it was watched widely and I hope the subsequent two debates will be as successful.

SUPPLEMENT: BBC Question Time is considering the leaders' debate and Nick Clegg is getting a resounding thumbs up from commentators and - crucially - the audience of great British voters.

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