By Chris Rogers
Last night we had the first of three groundbreaking Prime Ministerial TV debates in the UK. Pages of rules and a muted audience didn’t detract from the fact that political porn like this is rare, a testament to the 9.9 million viewers. They tuned in with the same appetite as an audience ready for the X-Factor.
Crikey it was intense though, the three gentlemen all shaved and primped to within an inch of their lives stood astride the polished silver lecterns delivering ninety uninterrupted minutes of argument. The moderator of this debate was Alistair Stewart (ITV) and he had arguably the worst night. He suffered an episode of newsreader’s tourettes as he sporadically yelled “Mister Brown, Mister Clegg, Mister Cameron”, switching the debate with a shrill tone, reminiscent of a mother berating a small child for sticking their fat finger in a juicy pudding! I must confess to taking a forced break at around the sixty minute mark to find some Scotch…but the candidates had no such pleasure.
Mr Brown (Labour)
The Prime Minister proved the proverbial human light-bulb. No one ever knows if there is enough Argon in the atmosphere to sustain his egregious smile for longer than a second before burnout.
In my opinion he was a close third place but others have promoted him higher. Let down by attempted punch lines and by misreading the “stay positive” strategy of Clegg and Cameron at the beginning, he demonstrated a sound command of policy as you might expect. The one with thirteen years of record to defend, he fell into the trap of wobbling his head in denial – like a Churchill’s car insurance advert – instead of remaining pensive.
However, at the end he stole a hilarious march on the other two candidates, taking off into the crowd like a thunderbolt. He wolfed up great swathes of the audience into his hands even before his flat-footed opponents had a chance to register. I’ll remember that part of his performance above all.
Mr Cameron (Conservative)
Call Me Dave had the nicest tie, and lots of stories about people he’d met and places he’d been. Perhaps too many – you got the feeling that every time he needed a policy or stance on something he’d wander out into the provinces – like Livingstone searching for the source of the Nile – and ask a native who he happened to meet what the best way to go was.
Steady as she goes though it was the sort of performance that you come to expect from him, compelling in places and a little cheesy in others. Brown shouldn’t have agreed to this debate but Cameron felt like the one who had most to lose, so he was never going to win really – second place.
Mr Clegg (Liberal Democrat)
Who is this chap, hands in pockets – not like the other two. Trying his best not to join the argument while the other two argued, because, you know, he’s not argumentative like the other two. Remembering that Jackie (a questioner) came from Burnley was very impressive, neither of the other two managed that and he always asked to see the face of the questioner behind the blinding studio lights. Let me connect with you, sir! That’s better.
Mr Clegg had the advantage of surprise, a relative unknown quantity for many and he took his chance with alacrity. Brown and Cameron will have learned their lesson. He really is very different from the other two, isn’t he?