The much anticipated ‘debate’ in which David Cameron cowardly refused a one on one and Ed Miliband tried to prove to Britain that he was not in fact controlled by a member of the Muppet’s production team.
It started strong, with Paxman going for the Prime Minister’s jugular, like always Cameron seemed to dodge the questions asked like the plague, eventually admitting that he could not survive on a zero hour contract. Questions on his EU and foreign policy as well as his economic policies shone through his political rhetoric and with his attempt to tell a downright lie on labour’s spending left him visibly flustered.
Queue, as a previously broadcasted segment on the debate predicted, an ‘unpredictable’ audience interaction. Except you’d be hard pressed to convince anyone who watched the debate that it was anything but ‘unpredictable’. Cameron’s well prepared, well spoken and confident answers to the tame questions from the audience sharply contrasted Paxman’s assault. What we saw then was two David Cameron’s, the one he wants Britain to see, the well prepared, confident and well spoken Cameron of the second half and the real Cameron, the unprepared, floundering and babbling politician who couldn’t guess the price of a loaf of bread, let alone empathise with the electorate.
Miliband started with the audience’s questions, and they were noticeably sharper. With the opening phrased, ‘why are you so gloomy?’ Miliband handled himself surprisingly well. He didn’t seem to rely as much on political rhetoric as Cameron had done and he came across far less ‘false’. During his 15 minutes with Paxman he proved in the opinion of this article, that he did not, in fact, have a man’s hand up his shirt working him. He stood his ground, seemed more confident and most notably to his merit he did not try to defend Labour’s past mistakes. Perhaps, he did come on a bit too strong in the beginning and tried to angle the question of Britain’s natural populace limit towards the question of the EU but in fairness, the EU and Britain’s population are synonymous it would seem these days.
Overall, the refusal to engage in a one on one debate allowed Cameron to scrape through Paxman’s onslaught only to, as it seems, regurgitate prepared speeches to a visibly tame audience. Miliband, on the other hand faced a more aggressive audience and held his own and stayed confident in the face of Paxman. It is important to note that Miliband enjoyed the virtue of the opposition but he quite rightly rebuked criticisms of his character, reminding us that you should not judge a book by its cover, an age old moral, but one apparently forgotten.
Polls carried out by ICM and YouGov however put Cameron ahead of Miliband after the debate. The legacy of the last Labour government’s mistakes is still fresh on the public’s mind, and while Cameron has many faults and his performance as Prime Minister has not been perfect, his term in office has not seen anywhere near the devastating consequences of Labour. Perhaps this is an unfair comparison but that is, for better or worse, how democracy works, the people remember.