I watched the first ever UK General Election Leader’s debate on TV last night.
I was struck by a number of things.
The first was that it was actually quite engaging. There was always a fear that the huge list of rules and guideline that the Parties had come up with to minimise the possibility of exposing their man to a damaging attack would kill off any chance of a real discussion. That didn’t happen.
Media friendly David Cameron didn’t do well. That was a big surprise, especially as of the three he had the most to lose.
Nick Clegg did really well.
Gordon Brown didn’t suck.
Of course there are many arguments to be had about style v substance but the big winner was Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. They were given equal billing and boy did they grasp it.
Which leaves us in an interesting place. Has the debate changed the game? Are the Lib Dems now a real possibility? Or at least not just the other lot that will never win…
The dismissal of small parties has always puzzled me. Tactical voting is odd. It has often been said that if all the people who would want to vote LibDem but don’t see the point because they won’t get in actually voted for them then they would indeed be challengers.
In Scotland the SNP form the government. That happened because people chose not to vote for the party they have always voted for. And because we have a much fairer voting system. We have a hung parliament… and it works.
For me the elephant in the room last night wasn’t the economy, it was devolution. Most of the debate didn’t apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who all have devolved responsibility for health, education and policing.
When are the Westminster parties going to get a real grip on the fact that England doesn’t have the same rights as the rest of the UK and that this should make a difference to how we govern the UK as a whole?
The next few weeks will be very interesting…