After all the controversy that has emerged about these “leaders debates polls” and whether – after the Sky debate – at least one polling company ran its polling BEFORE Nick made his closing remarks …I sit wondering what the “who won the debate” polls actually tell us.
One has sympathy for the polling companies – it’s a new format – the polls are under pressure to deliver and deliver fast – so I can see that they may struggle to do it perfectly in order to do it quickly. Then again maybe they have all done it perfectly ..(in which case at least one of them needs a better PR company)..Ah well it will all come out in the wash I am sure…
And of course each party has spun itself silly trying to persuade the nation why their guy “won”. And the newspapers will slavishly follow their political masters…. The Sun will gun for Clegg, The Telegraph will call it for Cameron etc etc.
For the first time tonight I watched the debate with an audience – with about 50 or 60 Liberals to be precise. It is infinitely more difficult to draw sound conclusions when surrounded by partisan Liberals cheering on Nick’s every word (though it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience).
So I am not attempting to “call it” tonight.
I have two observations however…
1. I think this debate will have half the impact of last week’s debate - which in turn had half the impact of the first one. Most will already have made up their mind prior to this evenings debate and barring a total cock up tonight (which there wasn’t- that was demonstrably yesterday’s story) I doubt there was anything there to change people’s minds.
2. Politicians and papers still seem not to have woken up to the fact that the people of this country are sick to death of the old-school confrontational, attack-style politics. I noticed tonight that when Cameron attempted to have a go at Nick about the Liberals immigration policy, Camerons line (the “worm”) went into the negative. When Nick talked about getting all three parties chancellors together to agree the size of the debt and a plan to sort out this economic mess – Clegg’s line shot up.
People want consensus..they want the politicians heads knocking together to sort this mess out …. they are tired of cheap political point scoring… and bored with negative attacks from the Parties pet newspapers on their rivals.
So whilst I find it hard to call who won the debate tonight - as Iwatched amongst eager, upbeat Liberals – I think it is clear, however much David Cameron (and tonight Gordon Brown) might object, that people WANT a hung parliament…they WANT consensus politics….they WANT a different way of doing politics in this country. I think they will get it. And I think that was determined within 24 hours of the first TV debate.
(Oh and lest there be any doubt about this, my view on the Liberals policy on limiting bankers bonus’ is that it is populist nonsense).