Six Election Debate experts split the first UK leaders’ debate of the 2010 General Election 3-3 to Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg. No one gave the debate to David Cameron.
While there was no clear winner, there was a clear loser with four of the six judges identifying Cameron as the wooden spooner.
Watch the debate (courtesy of ITV) here.
Read the transcript (courtesy of the BBC) here.
Here is a summary of what the judges said. You can scroll down or click the link to read their full analysis. As always, Election Debates strives to bring you objective, rational analysis of the debate, free from the usual political spin.
Winner: Brown – Scores: Brown 81 | Clegg 78 | Cameron 77
Brown won a reasonably close debate: he kept his messages clear and simple, but still managed to convey policy detail. He made fewer mistakes than the other two speakers. Clegg had his moments of clear policy differentiation (e.g. expenses, Trident), but the outsider looking in – dare I say the maverick thing – got a little boring and repetitive towards the end. Cameron’s rebuttal was often based around examples (e.g. waste) instead of policy argumentation. He was light on for substantive detail and therefore his alternative vision for Britain appeared vague at times.
Winner: Clegg – Scores: Brown 69 | Cameron 68 | Clegg 72
Nick Clegg made the weather in this first Election Debate, dumping ash all over the hyped Cameron/Brown showdown. He was able to portray himself as the outsider, “being straight with people”, and dragged the debate into a low-energy exchange of policies.
Winner: Brown – Scores: Brown 85| Cameron 78 | Clegg 82
Brown wins the debate by winning three issues, and remaining close in three others, while sustaining a consistent thematic line which allowed his positions to have better thrust and persuasion in the debate. Clegg who came second had strong issues grasp and possibly edged Brown in speaking style in the debate.
Winner: Clegg – Score: Clegg 80 | Cameron 75 | Brown 73
In general I found the manner and in particular the matter of Clegg to be superior to the others. Cameron just about came second because for me while there was no knock out blows the only “clanger” in the debate was the idea that Brown would not cut waste because he wanted to keep the economy going and would make savings somewhere later. Add to that the briefly mentioned argument that he had 13 years why didn’t he fix it then (came in on Lords reform) and you have to say that point undermines much of his arguments.
Winner: Clegg – Scores: Clegg 80 | Brown 77 | Cameron 75
Quite a close debate, which was in my view won by the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg. Clegg exploited his advantage as leader of the third party skillfully, displaying an informal and persuasive speaking style and “breaking the fourth wall” effectively to position himself on the side of the viewer against the “establishment” politicians. Gordon Brown overcame his perceived manner deficit with a performance that was strong on policy and detail, and effectively challenged the Conservative leader on a number of occasions. David Cameron found himself squeezed by the other two leaders; despite quite good manner, he was unable to control the ground on which the debate took place as much as he would have liked, and failed to respond to some key challenges, particularly on funding.
Winner: Brown – Scores: Brown 80 | Cameron 76 | Clegg 72
Who would have thought it? Brown outclasses Cameron on every subject bar policing and health. The usually telegenic Cameron looked ill at ease. Brown came across as authoritative and comfortable. Clegg landed the odd punch but was out of his depth. I would never have called this but Browns performance gives his party a chance.