General Election 2010: the reaction to the first live leaders' debate sees commentators coming out in praise of the Liberal Democrat Leader...
The leaders of the three largest parties made history last night when they took part in Britain’s first live televised election debate.
As the debate went on, ITV revealed it had more comments online than during an episode of X Factor, and analysts, pollsters and politicians immediately clamoured to put their spin on the event.
And it seems that most were calling last night’s events in favour of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, with a series of polls showing that television viewers were impressed with his performance.
Jonathan Freedland at the Guardian declared that it was Mr Clegg’s ability to connect with the studio audience that had won the general public over. ‘The first shot had him looking alarmingly young, boyish and eager, but he soon transcended that. More than his rivals, he demonstrated an instant understanding of the format’, he wrote.
‘He addressed questioners by their first name, a habit later picked up, though less naturally, by the others. He was studiedly colloquial – “You won’t believe this, Jacqueline” – and cast himself as the rebel. ‘Apparently I’m not allowed to ask you questions,’ he said to one member of the audience, ‘so just nod your head.’
Despite Mr Clegg being the obvious winner, as had been expected by many, most commentators came to the conclusion that no one leader had delivered a fatal blow during last night’s 90-minute event.
Unsurprisingly, both the Sun and the Mirror had rather differing views on how Gordon Brown fared. The Sun’s political team described Mr Brown as ‘aggressive‘ and ‘tetchy‘ as he repeatedly badgered Mr Cameron for an answer over police funding. Meanwhile the Mirror wallowed happily in what is being generally seen as a disastrous performance by David Cameron who the paper said was ‘naive‘ and ‘dodged answers‘.
Ben McIntyre at the Times said that Clegg represented the ‘antithesis of old politics’ but said that no one leader ‘had delivered a knockout blow‘.
Summing up, he said: ‘Mr Cameron appeared assured and calm. Mr Brown was a solid presence. Mr Clegg gained the sort of platform his predecessors could only dream of. Was there a winner? There was no killer blow. The only clear winners are the voters, who were treated last night to the sight of raw democracy played out on a single stage.’
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