The TV debate held on April 2nd 2015 was historic in many ways. It was the first time that seven party leaders faced each other, a live studio audience and the rest of Britain. It was also historic in the sense that the spotlight was shone on Manchester and Media City, rather than the typical Westminster setting favoured by British politics. The response to the leaders’ debate on social media was huge and Humanity Hallows has compiled a few of your comments below:
The first is a haiku, written by Sheila McGill. She said the following, ‘The leaders’ debate with so many different views, some controversial, made me think about the young voice in the audience and how many are disengaged, this led me to write a haiku:
Left, middle or right
Your voice ensures, your vision,
Your freedom, your might!
The second is a comment from MMU student Amber Hodson, which gets straight to the point:
‘The Welsh party think we’re all separate countries, SNP still wishes to be out of the UK, Conservatives are in another world, Lib Dems have no idea what’s going on, UKIP made some good points (especially about being within the EU) and Labour are 50/50 for me at the moment. No point mentioning the Green Party to be fair.’
Last but not least, is a slightly more in-depth analysis of the leader’s debate. MMU student Mohammed Ahmed writes about what each party ultimately tried to sell, as well as who came out on top.
‘Three party leaders clearly won the debates. Two neither won nor lost and two fared badly. Here’s my verdict on how each of the leaders did in the debate:
Nicola Sturgeon: I thought she was the clear winner of this debate. It’s no coincidence that one of the most searched for terms on Twitter during and after the debate was, ‘Can I vote SNP in England?’ Surprisingly, for a party that doesn’t stand candidates in England and Wales, she talked about social justice and how the policies the SNP would implement would help the whole of the UK, unlike Leanne Wood (which I’ll come onto), a pitch that will appeal strongly to many English Labour voters.
Nigel Farage: The UKIP leader clearly was controversial and not afraid to be divisive, as his comments about HIV positive immigrants showed. The polls showed that this divisiveness went down well with existing UKIP voters, but also many Tories. It may be enough to stop the decline we have been seeing in the last few weeks and improve UKIP’s vote share. John Curtice, the famous Strathclyde pollster, yesterday suggested that there was some evidence that UKIP could recover as a result of this debate, but we will have to see.
Ed Miliband: The Labour leader surprised his critics with a fairly decent performance. While he went under the radar a little and was constantly under attack from the insurgent left and right, Miliband did well on the few occasions he attacked David Cameron, and did not interrupt the other leaders when they were making points. The fact that he is the only realistic national alternative to David Cameron means that he’ll probably benefit most.
David Cameron: I thought that David Cameron neither won nor lost this debate. CCHQ will be delighted that he was able to get his central message, “Stability” against a dreaded “Left-wing government” across to a wider audience. But Cameron himself appeared flustered on the night and people expected him to do better than he did. Overall,,this wasn’t a performance that will excited undecided voters, but it’s not a performance that will make many Conservatives turn away from Cameron anyway. Which, I suspect, is exactly what he wanted.
Nick Clegg: Initially, being a member of the dreaded liberal left commentariat, I like many others thought that Nick Clegg had done quite well. He is quite good at these debates, as we saw in 2010, and pitched his ideas well. But polls showed that the public disliked his performance. Perhaps the fact that the man is so toxic has permanently made people blind and deaf when it comes to listening to anything Clegg says. Either way, the Lib Dems are confident that they’ve done enough to persuade voters in those 57 Lib Dem held seats to keep the faith. I’m not so sure.
Natalie Bennett: Bennett didn’t lack passion. She definitely had some good ideas. But she came across so poorly that it completely obscured everything she was saying. You felt like she was going to drop to the floor and start crying any minute, such was the ineptitude of her performance. I would regard her as being a major loser in these debates. She really didn’t do the Green Party’s ideas and values any justice through her performance. Polls show that only 1%-1%!-now think she is, “Able and capable to run the country.” A very poor show.
Leanne Wood: The Plaid Cymru leader had ideas, and expressed them well. She floored Farage on immigration “You should be ashamed of yourself!”, and took the fight to Ed Miliband. There’s just one problem. This was supposed to be a UK WIDE DEBATE. Did anyone tell Wood that she was supposed to be pitching to English and Scottish voters as well as Welsh voters? Another major loser, but the Plaid leader will be fairly pleased that she topped Google searches during the debate, ‘Who is Leanne Wood?’
The leaders’ debate was certainly memorable, but has it helped those on the fence make up their minds? That remains to be seen. However, there is a sense that British politics might finally begin to move away from the ‘clique’ of Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats at long last.