Archive for the 'Leaders’ TV debates' Category


The official campaign Day 1: The line-up for Thursday night and an interesting betting market for the 7 sided event

Monday, March 30th, 2015

The line up on the stage was decided by lots being drawn this morning. It is hard to work out who has come out best. Farage has Clegg on his left and Miliband on his right though he’s some way along from Cameron.

My guess is that Farage would have preferred to be closer, if not next to, Cameron. Sturgeon has done well – directly next to Dave.

Ed is centre stage – that might be good and it might be bad. Cameron will be please to be some places away from Farage. My betting tip, Leanne, is in a good poistion given her main opponent in Wales is Labour.

The SportingIndex betting market is intriguing.

Polling: Populus had LAB & CON level pegging and this afternoon at 4pm we’ll get the weekly Ashcroft poll. There’ll be a round up later.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


By accident or design, the election’s got a debate series that could work

Friday, March 27th, 2015


Multiple structures will probe the parties & leaders

In a little over nine months’ time, the US presidential hopefuls will be campaigning hard in the then snow-bound small rural state of Iowa, the first in a long process of state-wide elections that will ultimately determine the two parties’ nominations. That process has evolved over the years, partly organically, partly by design but the main reason there’s been little wholesale reform in the schedule, despite offerings to that end being put forward from time to time, is simple: it works.

The reason why it works is in the asymmetry of the challenge. Small states are intermingled with large ones, caucuses with primaries, one-off elections with multi-state dates; the campaign jolts around the country in no particular order. There is no particularly natural progression and no obvious logic to the order of the series. What that means is that for any one candidate to be nominated, he or she has to demonstrate a wide range of campaigning talents, from the up close and personal in Iowa to mass fundraising for the TV onslaught of Super Tuesday. One-trick ponies need not apply.

And after the months of to-ing and fro-ing over the debates in Britain, we’ve landed on something similar over here. The innovation of the debates in 2010 was to be welcomed; the excessive influence they had in the election was not. Apart from crowding out local campaigns (yes, in theory we vote for individual MPs locally but most people in most seats vote on national issues or preferences), they also made it harder for the leaders to be held to account in other ways.

This time, with the sequential interviews this week, the big 7-way debate next week, the 5-way opposition leaders’ debate mid-month and the 3-way Question Time event at the end, the leaders cannot just rehash the same arguments against each other as each event has its own dynamic and its own line-up. On top of which, the two two-week breaks in April mean that they ought to spend more time on the road and less time prepping.

Of the four events, the 7-way ought to be the most significant. It’s the only one where all the leaders are present and the first in the campaign proper. Much will depend on the moderation, as with so many people on stage the twin risks of the discussion being either stilted or a shouting match will be ever-present, but if it’s done well then the arguments made and public perceptions gained will frame the rest of the election. I wouldn’t be surprised if the viewing figures are three times the size of those for the Paxman interviews. Thereafter though, we should be back to something like normal campaigning for much of the rest of the month. It strikes a good balance.

The big question is who will benefit from that apart from, hopefully, the public? The answer to that lies in their credibility. Put simply, the major parties have to look like competent parties of government; the minor parties have to look like the voice of that part of the electorate they’re fishing in. As throughout the parliament, the direct Con-Lab battle is likely to be secondary to those between both Con and Lab on the one hand, and UKIP, the SNP and the Greens on the other, with the Lib Dems as something of a wild card.

In particular, this is Nigel Farage’s moment as kingmaker. Although UKIP has taken votes from both Con and Lab, he doesn’t have time to attack both Cameron and Miliband equally and expect to score two hits so his choice in where to direct his fire in that debate is probably one of the biggest specific variables of the election (particularly when combined with whether he’s effective in doing so). Having both gained hugely since 2010 and slipped since 2014, he has votes to defend and to win back. There is a strong argument to go for Miliband, whose electoral support will already be under attack from the Greens and SNP and so he has less chance to respond; there’s also a strong argument for him to go for Cameron given that more UKIP support has come from the Tories than anywhere else. If he does try both, he may fall flat and invite a shellacking in return. With the polls so close nationally, upon that call may turn the course of the election.

David Herdson


And the winner so far is – Update ICM calls it for Dave

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Jeremy Paxman proved why he’s the best in the business.

But I do wonder if Ed Miliband’s “Hell Yeah”when Paxman asked him if he was “tough enough to deal with the likes of Putin” maybe the most memorable event from the whole debates and interviews. Whether it is for good or ill, we will soon find out.

Though Paxman’s off mic comment at the end to Ed of “Are you all right, Ed?” could also be a big talking point.

Overall will it shift any votes?

I’ll update this when the polling comes out later on.



Let the debates begin

Thursday, March 26th, 2015


Well the interviews at least.

You can watch the event live by clicking the youtube video below.


I think Ed will be perceived to be the winner from tonight’s events, because the old maxim of success equals performance minus expectation, and the expecation for Ed is probably lower than it is for David Cameron, especially after David Cameron’s successful performance at PMQs yesterday.

Will one or both of them have a surprise in store?

I expect the other  parties will say they Cameron and Miliband were losers, but I wonder what the reaction will be to Nigel Farage attending the event, he may be in the audience section.

I think this merely the hors d’oeuvre for next week’s seven way debate.

Dave is up first

As I understand it, there’s going to be at Guardian/ICM poll on Dave and Ed after 22:30, but YouGov aren’t doing one for the following reason.



So the debates are happening

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Prime Ministerial Debates 2010   YouTube (1)

The first event is four days away.

Yesterday it was confirmed that we would have the debates and the format of said debates, they are as follows

  • 26th March: Live question and answer programme on Channel 4 and Sky News featuring David Cameron and Ed Miliband, presented by Jeremy Paxman and Kay Burley
  • 2nd April: Debate with the following party leaders David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband, Nigel Farage, Natalie Bennett, Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood on ITV, moderated by Julie Etchingham
  • 16th April: Debate between five opposition party leaders, Ed Miliband, Nigel Farage, Natalie Bennett, Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood on the BBC, moderated by David Dimbleby
  • 30th April: BBC Question Time programme with David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, presented by David Dimbleby

My initial thoughts were that Ed Milband is in every event/debate, and all publicity is good, however, the more I think about it, Ed’s appearance on the debate of the 16th of April could be a mistake.

He’s going to be, relatively speaking, the voice of austerity versus four populists offering anti-austerity policies, which generally go down well with the electorate.

The risk for the coalition parties from this debate is that it turns into one long kicking of the coalition on prime time television, which might not help their polling, which makes it even more surprising that Nick Clegg agreed to Cameron vetoing his appearance on the 16th of April debate.

For a party that is regularly polling in the single digits, even with their most favourable posters, this could be a serious mistake by Clegg, especially as they don’t have an equivalent opportunity for a rebuttal.

But I think the major loser from the format of these debates might be UKIP, there is a supposition that UKIP’s poll ratings are higher when they are in the news (for good or bad reasons) but when they are out of the news cycle, their ratings tend to be lower.

So one week before election day, the three major established parties have been a very public platform to get across their policies, whilst UKIP don’t have that opportunity.

No wonder Farage seemed quite frustrated and angry yesterday as the below tweets show.

Longer term, it would appear that the debates are now an established feature of our general election campaigns. When parties have future leadership elections, a person perceived to have good debate and presentational skills will be considered to have an advantage. Something that might help Boris Johnson in a future Tory Leadership election.

In past years, it could have had an effect, if the Tory Party knew there would be debates in 2005, would they have elected IDS instead of Kenneth Clarke?



TNS poll has the Tories ahead whilst there appears to be progress on the debates

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015


Meanwhile on the debates, there has been progress or has there?



Fewer voters have made up their mind on how to vote than in the past

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Ipsos Mori Decided

Whilst most voters think the debates will influence the way the vote

Ipsos Mori Influence

Ipsos Mori have done some polling which asks how many voters have made up their mind on how to vote, and what will influence the way they will vote. The fieldwork for the polling was early to mid February, so well before the recent contretemps over the debates. So David Cameron’s non appearance in the debates could fundamentally damage the Tories as we can see from the above chart, the debates appear key to influencing how voters will vote.

If the  debates don’t happen, then the Newspapers become more influential, something which theoretically should be damaging for Labour as I expect most of the national newspapers to back the Tories, and those that might back Labour generally have the fewest numbers of readers.

With the current polling neck and neck, and 50% of voters indicating the might change their mind, there’s scope for one party over the next 53 days to pull away and get a decent lead.

The full data tables are available here.



One thing we can now start to say – the Tories haven’t taken a hit over the debates saga

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Only fly in the ointment for the blues – Populus

Those who were concluding that Dave and the blue team would not be damaged by the debates issue now have an answer. With both Ashcroft and latest showing 4% leads the strong Tory start to March continues.

This will surely calm nerves within the blue camp about the debates row and support their confidence.

But Populus remains showing a red lead albeit a small one. Hopefully in the coming week we will start to see the other firms reporting which might add to the overall picture.

Back in 2010 the early March polling proved to be a good pointer to the national CON vote lead on day.

The betting, as the Betfair chart above shows, has the Tories moving to a 64% shot on Betfair exchange. The other markets will no doubt follow suit.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble