The ITV Debate: Winners and Losers

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UK election reporter Liam Bateman on the second leader’s debate.

On the 2nd of April, one week after the Paxman interview/Q&A, ITV showed a proper head to head debate between the seven leaders of Parliament. Those who took part were: Natalie Bennett: UK Green Party Nick Clegg: Liberal Democrats Nigel Farage: UKIP Ed Miliband: UK Labour Leanne Wood: Plaid Cymru (Welsh National Party) Nicola Sturgeon: Scottish National Party David Cameron: Conservatives

It was a much more interesting watch than the Paxman “debates” and we got to see the leaders go head to head over some of the very important issues facing the UK including immigration, the NHS, education and inequality amongst others. I decided I would rank the leaders on performance from the worst to the best.

7th Place: Natalie Bennett (Green Party)

The leader of the UK Green Party had some promise as she talked about the Greens’ plans for the country. She talked hard against austerity and condemned the actions of Blair and Cameron towards the NHS and privatisation. I found myself agreeing with her a few times. The National Health Service is supposed to be a public service, not a business. However, something seemed to be majorly lacking from Bennett. I have a great respect for the Green Party in New Zealand and many MPs in their caucus, including new MP and hopeful co-leader candidate, James Shaw. Something the NZ Greens have is lacking in her, but I can’t put my finger on it.

The problem is the UK Green Party haven’t gotten as strong as our Greens due to the UK’s FPTP system and haven’t politically matured, though a change to MMP could change the tide.

6th Place: David Cameron (Conservative)

The Prime Minister’s performance was bland and I had heard his rhetoric time and time again while going through Prime Minister’s Questions on my Thursday mornings. He did have some good moments and managed to score a small hit against Nigel Farage on the subject of immigration, but there was one thing that surprised me. At least four times, I saw Cameron arguing with Nick Clegg. I’m sorry, but was I dreaming?

In 2010, Clegg and Cameron walked into Number 10 hand in hand as partners. Now they’re arguing on national television. This is not a good look for either party. Especially owing to the fact Cameron needs the Lib Dems to get anywhere close to keeping power. The coalition is already unstable, there is no need to make it worse.

5th Place: Nick Clegg (Lib Dem)

The Lib Dem leader managed to do better than the Prime Minister, but his performance was still quite poor in my view. He has a massive shadow over him, consisting of broken promises, a betrayal of his principles and what the Liberal Democrats stand for. I like the Lib Dems to some extent but Clegg has led them down a path from which they may not recover. Paddy Ashdown would not be impressed.

Though to his credit, he did managed to call out Farage for his immigrant fear-inducing policies when he was from an immigrant family and had married a German. But it was not enough to save himself.

4th Place: Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru)

Before I watched the debates, I knew virtually nothing about Plaid Cymru except they were a Welsh party. I think Leanne was swept aside by some commentators and I personally thought she did really well in the debate. She was not afraid to take on the mighty ones. She took on Ed Miliband, David Cameron and even Nigel Farage at least once and made some very good points. She also talked a bit about how she wanted to aid the Welsh NHS and campaigning that all parts of the UK could decided independently whether they stayed in the EU, a topic that dominated a large portion of the debate.

For a first time hearing Plaid Cymru debate, I was quite impressed.

3rd Place: Nigel Farage (UKIP)

I wanted to put him at 7th place because I, like my fellow contributors, cannot stand him or UKIP. If you don’t know why, we have several reasons why in our previous posts. But one of Nigel Farage’s strengths is a good speaking voice and skill with debating. His points were clear and concise and he made some good arguments against the other leaders’ policies and plans. Though keeping himself going about the EU when it wasn’t really necessary made him look like a one-trick pony.

However, he was a target for a lot of the other leaders. I think every leader had a go at him at least once. Some were better than others but Farage was able to easily toss off some criticisms from some leaders. However, two leaders prevented him from doing any better

2nd Place: Ed Miliband (Labour)

As I said in a previous post, the debates are a perfect opportunity for Ed to shine, to get more votes needed to ensure Labour gets as close to a majority as it can. And shine he did. Ed did impress me and did show that Labour was changing from Blairism. It is no means clear of it as the other leaders identified throughout the debate on many issues.

But this did not distract Ed from his message. In every debate, he looked at the audience member who questioned them or at the camera and told them Labour’s plan. Indeed he did well and I’m sure this allowed him to gain more voters’ confidence in him, something he needs to rid Britain of Thatcher’s fanboy.

1st Place: Nicola Sturgeon (Scottish National Party)

Like PC, I knew little about the SNP until the Scottish Independence Referendum. I had also never heard of Nicola Sturgeon before now. But having seen the debate, I am glad I watched it. Whilst I am still slightly hesitant to give support to the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon impressed me the most.

Like Leanne, she pushed for Scotland to be able to make independent decisions as part of the UK, for a strengthening of the NHS and for an end to austerity in Britain. She also scored an awesome hit against Nigel, the best of the evening.

“I think the only thing the people have learnt tonight is that there is nothing Nigel Farage won’t blame on foreigners.” To which Nigel could only make one of his moronic faces. Despite my reservations, Nicola Sturgeon was the clear winner that night and I have been reassured that the SNP are a party not to be underestimated.

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