The largest of the election debates in the UK saw seven party leaders take to the stage, but how did they fare, and what does it mean for the poll on May 7th
There’s no point appealing to the population of the US gambling laws of common sense, proportion and sensible perspective will render them able to discern any added validity your arguments and policies might have simply by dint of being true, accurate or apt. Indeed just like all other democracies the best way of getting your message across is to pick some easily digestible sound bites, add an amiable person in a suit, and don’t become too bogged down in the whole concept of truth.
Before & After The Debate
Nigel Farage gets 19%
Ed & Dave are neck & neck
SNP may hold balance of power
The usually immutable nature of truth, in the hands of the skilled politician, becomes an entirely different kettle of fish, with the only real definition being something akin to that which cannot be proven to be completely false by a News researcher and Google. The carefully worded statement, the slightly evasive answer, that smile of patronizing changing of the subject back “on message”, all just tools at their disposal in their desperate need to impress and garner support from as many as possible.
In the UK this usually centers around photo-opportunities, short appearances on the television news, and, when it simply can’t be avoided, actually meeting the public. Meeting the public annoys most politicians who either find people over earnestly supportive in a desperate sort of way, or hugely hostile, sometimes with pockets full of eggs. Performing in front of an audience of them, like an audition completely unthinkable, especially for those with something to lose, like power.
David Cameron did all he could to avoid the TV debates, and right up to the wire on this, the largest of them, you got the feeling that any moment there might be “technical issues” that would prevent broadcast, but as it was the big bun fight went ahead with a gloriously chaotic seven party leaders taking to the stage, the PM having refused to go one on one with the only viable alternative new resident for Number 10 Downing Street, so as not to lend gravitas to Ed Miliband the Labour leader.
The Worst Game Show Ever Made
ITV hosted this debate which is why it looked like a very cheap game show, right down to the tacky podiums, silly lighting, and selection of contestants none of whom were particularly likeable. It had been Cameron’s insistence that led to this en masse approach to debating, his hope to hide away from too much attention on his government’s woeful record, callous indifference and outright exploitation of anyone who doesn’t work in the banking sector, live in Chipping Norton or know Dave from Eton.
So just who was this motley collection of half-truth tellers that shared the stage with Mr. Cameron? Well for a start there was Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, who suffered hugely from not sounding like she was English. She went in at 16/1 to win, but will not be at all pleased coming out of her big television moment having secured only 3% of the audience polled afterward. After her terrible campaign launch radio interview, when she froze up entirely, you can expect her to be replaced May 8th.
Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood, who looked a little too much like Philomena Cunk at times, made even less of an impression getting just 2% at the end of the debate, but since she went in at 20/1 to come out a winner she won’t be too surprised, and the snap poll afterwards probably doesn’t accurately reflect how her performance would have been received in Wales. Nicola Sturgeon from the Scottish National Party was playing to her own audience too but did much better, 6/1 going in and 17% on the way out.
Faring perhaps worst, over all, was the deserving figure of Nick Clegg who could, at this point, probably cure cancer and still be unpopular. Whilst other politicians shrug off their broken promises, Clegg owns up to his, and the public loathe him for it. He had 10/1 on him at the start but just 9% when he was done talking. Nigel Farage, the xenophobic buffoon from UKIP, was tipped at 7/4 and perhaps frighteningly came out with 19% his constant litany of blaming everything on immigrants sadly popular.
Ed Came Home At 3/1 But Not By Much
Ed Miliband did best on the night edging out Cameron 25% to 24% to win overall, which might not seem significant but given he went in at 3/1 he played a blinder to come out ahead, and those who like to bet on sports in US and that had backed Cameron at 7/2 sorely disappointed I feel. Then again Cameron didn’t look as convincing as a Prime Minister should, his sad expression giving away just how much the proximity to poor people was depressing him, his answers just a little stale by comparison.
Miliband looked pleased to be there, to be given a chance to speak, the only one he’ll get to go head on against Cameron this cycle, and whilst Nick Clegg’s eyes sunk into the back of his head out of shame to be seen with him, and Nigel Farage sweated like a man under interrogation in Guantanamo Bay, and Natalie Bennett reminded far too many of us of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the debate’s big winners were probably the Scottish National Party, in that they’re now manifestly lynchpin for Labour.
With the two big parties neck and neck there’s a need to look at coalition partners again and going on these numbers the Conservatives could have UKIP’s 19% or the Lib Dem 9%, whilst Labour is stuff needing the SNP’s 17%, none of which takes into account the parties from Northern Ireland who weren’t invited to the debate but whose MPs might well be gambling news of a close race will once again give them disproportionate power for their so few numbers in parliament.
Right now on Bet365 the Conservatives are still 4/9 against Labour’s 7/4 to win the most seats, with both on 9/4 to form a minority government, and when it comes to actually being Prime Minister Cameron is floating at 8/13, with Ed Miliband at 5/4 and anyone else way outside at 33/1. At those odds you have to wonder why we had to endure a stage of seven when only two were ever really in the game? You can get some great odds on the make up of any coalition and betting on the outcome could be the only way you’ll be a winner on May 8th regardless of who is elected.