Two weeks ago now, I made a post about the first leaders debate for the upcoming general election. And now there was another one on Wednesday. Brutal. So what was different in this one? A bunch I guess. Jeremy Corbyn decided to turn up to this one after not appearing at the last one, much to many peoples surprise. Theresa May, however, stuck with her guns and instead sent what I think is possibly the worst replacement ever (we’ll get to that later).
To be fair to the man, unlike last time I can’t criticise Corbyn for not showing up. I think it’s admirable that he came to this one, and the coming polls will quite possibly reflect this decision. And I suppose sending a representative of the party is sort of admirable on May’s part, although I believe that it is still frankly ridiculous for a Prime Minister to refuse to attend the debates of her own election.
Like last time I will be giving a summary of how I feel each of the leaders performed in the debate. But, darn, there is a bloody lot of them this time. It’s rough, this political blogging stuff.
1. Angus Robertson – Scottish National Party
Unlike the first debate when Nicola Sturgeon was present, she opted out of this debate for (as far as I am aware) unknown reasons and instead sent her deputy leader Angus Robertson. And in my previous post, I said that in the last debate I felt that Sturgeon was a third wheel. Angus Robertson made more points than her in this debate, but it felt like he was trying to play a safe game with it. During big points where everyone would be getting involved, he would stay quiet and say something at the end in hope of a secret applause. Which I suppose worked on some points, but I think a better representative would debate their points instead of playing it safe, especially in an election which could cost them their current standing owning every seat but one in Scotland.
2. Paul Nuttall – UK Independence Party
In the last debate, Nuttall got a good roasting from the other candidates. Unfortunately, with the number of leaders here we didn’t get to see so much of this. We did see him get a good telling off from Corbyn though, which was highly entertaining. Like last time, he stated very few points with occasional stolen ones. But I don’t think his prescence was anywhere as entertaining here as it was in the last debate. Here it was more of a burden having to go to him on points where real debating could have been had.
3. Leanne Wood – Plaid Cymru
Leanne Wood was one of my highest regarded leaders of the last debate, and while I think she didn’t perform as well in this debate as she did in the first, I still think she did well enough to be proud of. She was able to double down on the point I most agreed with her on, to elect MPs that best effect the whole of Britain despite being a Wales-only party. She was also effective at taking on the other leaders, especially in taking on Rudd and Corbyn who were not there in the last debate. While I may think she had the lesser performance here than last time, she should still be proud of it here.
4. Caroline Lucas – Green Party
Like Leanne Wood, I thought that Caroline Lucas was one of the best contenders in the last debate. I still think she did well here, but naturally she received less coverage here as it was a seven leader debate. I think she did very well at stating her party policies like last time, but it was simply too many heads on the debate for her to stand out the same way again. She did make an excellent point though that the Greens are a party that takes pride in finding an alternative way to do things than the typical work we see from other parties, such as their current leadership being a job-share between her and co-leader Jonathan Bartley. I think the Greens should be proud of their record as one of the most progressive parties in the UK.
5. Tim Farron – Liberal Democrats
I stated last time that my voting intention was that I am going with the Liberal Democrats, and that hasn’t changed. While feeling disappointed that Tim Farron underperformed in the last debate, I think he made a vast improvement in upping his game in this one. He made a good case for how the many issues the Liberal Democrats are focusing on are some of the most important in this election, while being able to confidently take on other leaders, such as his “Bake Off” closing statement taking on Theresa May over her extreme stances and refusal to turn up to the debates.
6. Amber Rudd – Conservative Party
To be frank, I think Amber Rudd was the wrong person to send to represent the Conservative Party. I think her performance here (joined with the success of Corbyn) could almost certainly damage their place in the polls. The Home Secretary just seemed too aggressive in this debate, snapping at the other leaders on several occasions, while not doing very well at defending their record (which received laughs from the audience). Since the debate aired, it has come out that her father had just died on Monday, and like any well-meaning person I feel sorry for her. It would be tough to have to debate while dealing with those still raw emotions. It makes it even more ridiculous of Theresa May to not turn up, instead forcing a grieving daughter to argue her points for her.
7. Jeremy Corbyn – Labour Party
On Wednesday morning, to the surprise of many people, Jeremy Corbyn announced that he would be attending this debate despite his non-attendance of the last one. I think this was a smart move on his behalf, and I think it’s going to give him a good chance at bridging the gap between Labour and the Conservatives in the polls. Personally, I think Corbyn doesn’t have great leadership skills and he’s in charge of a party split between the Blairites and his own more left-wing faction. However, he made good points in this debate, and I think with Farron close behind, he led this debate.
In any election, I think one of the most deciding factors in who gets elected is the televised debate. In 2010, the inclusion of Nick Clegg led to the surge in Lib Dem voting figures that put into place the coalition government. In more international terms, televised debates have led to the loss by many American candidates – Michael Dukakis, Richard Nixon (the first time), Al Gore (one of the greatest crimes in modern politics), to name a few.
I think we should expect to see a change in the figures in the coming days up to the election because of this debate. If they make a big enough shift, maybe even a change in power.