Last (Thursday) evening UK time (about 3-5PM our time) the leaders of the following seven (That’s right SEVEN) political parties had a free-for-all debate on an independent TV network:
Conservative (Tory), Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, the Greens, UKIP and the Plaid Cymru (The Welsh Nationalists).
The Tories are right of center, the Labourites are left of center, along with the LibDems, the Greens, the Welsh Nationalists and the SNP. The UKIP is more right but also libertarian, too.
The early reports (I have not yet seen the debate) indicate that UKIP leader Nigel Farage and SNP leader (and the first minister of Scotland) Nicola Sturgeon did the best of all the leaders on the stage but that PM Cameron scored decisively over the Labour leader Ed Miliband. Couple of highlights:
David Cameron finished the debate as voters’ overwhelming choice to lead the country after the election, a snap poll found, despite strong performances from the SNP and Ukip leaders.
The Prime Minister kept himself above the fray as he urged voters not to send the UK back to “square one” by electing Mr Miliband.
A YouGov survey found that Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish National Party leader, was the victor in the debate, with 28 per cent of the public vote.
Nigel Farage came second with 20 per cent as he won plaudits for attacking Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband over immigration and their plans for the economy.
The Telegraph suggested Farage’s strong showing might boost UKIP’s likelihood that they will have more seats in the British Parliament:
Mr Farage’s strong performance increased the likelihood of more Ukip MPs entering the Commons after the general election.
The public perception that it was a closely fought battle was underlined in a separate ComRes-ITV poll in which Cameron, Miliband and Farage were tied on 21%. Sturgeon was in fourth place on 20%, followed by Clegg on 9%.
This is a surprise. The newspaper also said that between the two major party leaders (Cameron and Miliband) they were tied at 50% each.
In the Daily Mail, this decisive, staying on message, message by Farage should score with voters:
‘All six of them support Britain’s membership of the European Union. They all support open door immigration. I represent Ukip and we believe in Britain.
‘We also believe that open door immigration has compressed wages… and has not been good for this country. Let’s take back control of our borders.’
Excellent. Farage stayed on message, in effect called the other six parties Tweedledee/Tweedledum and added border control which is immigration placed in a more humane and less “hateful” manner. Now the UKIP leader did speak to the issue of foreigners with HIV coming to Britain to access the National Health Service. This stirred up controversy with the Plaid Cymru leader, Leanne Wood, saying in effect, shame on you and the SNP chief accusing Farage of blaming every bad thing in the UK on foreigners (perhaps ironic considering that Sturgeon wants to become a foreigner to the UK!). But no one seems to have proved the UKIP leader wrong.