Having just finished watching the Cameron/Miliband interviews, it’s clear to say that the opening round of debates was more of a whimper than a bang. Both politicians came in with confidence, but woozed off with wounds in specific areas. Polls have indicated that Cameron was more popular in this programme, but Miliband has had the advantage by going second in the running. This was also the first appearance of Jeremy Paxman since his departure from Newsnight last year, determined to turn a new leaf following his long BBC career. So did this opening exchange deliver? How did Jeremy & Kay fare off? Has this turned the campaign around before it “officially” kicks off?
This format originally was intended to be a head to head debate between David Cameron & Ed Miliband, with Jeremy Paxman chairing. However, last minute tweaks and interference saw the format tweaked to a two part Q&A session, one with Paxman, the other with a hand picked audience consisting of Labour/Tory/Undecided members of the electorate. I found it new and inventive, allowing the politicians to be put through their pace, and taking questions they’d never expect to answer, from both the audience and Paxman himself. However there were points that the format looked rush, and too sensationalist, particularly when Ed Miliband came on.
Jeremy Paxman’s return to the box was hyped fairly quietly. No sensational promotional campaign and no press tour were given. Paxman simply sat in his seat, and did what he did best: shouting at people. With statistics, quotes, and figures from five years of Parliament, he took both leaders to task, and showed the nation the reason why he’s one of the best journalists in the history of British Broadcasting. I’d also say that he was less cocky than he was on Newsnight, getting down to the nitty gritty, and nailing down the hard questions to the two leaders, particularly on Cameron. I felt that he was slightly more aggressive on Miliband, but Miliband’s response was much more heartfelt and clever. That’s the advantage of being second. With Cameron going on first, he felt lost at points, and stuttering to even challenge Paxman at times.
Winner – Ed Miliband (Slightly)
As said before, the audience was a mixture of Labour, Conservative, and Undecided voters. The audience was relaxed and comfortable, not lashing out, and shouting at random points of the broadcast. The Q&A session was friendly and relaxing. Both politicians answered serious but not stressful questions. It allowed more of the politicians personality to come out, something that has been a common criticism throughout the five years of exchanges. Cameron came off more confident in this session, more ministerial and commander in chief. I feel that he suits the Prime Minister role better, and has been trained well when handling an open public. Ed Miliband was good, but wasn’t given interesting questions to work with. Tired questions such as the mention of David Milliband didn’t really help him. It felt more like repeating old ground, and didn’t boost his image at being a Prime Minister in waiting.
Winner – David Cameron
The show was a solid kick off to election fever. Paxman’s return has been warmly welcomed, and Kay Burley came off more civil and smiley than usual. Both leaders will take something crucial away from this programme, and hopefully build on it in the coming weeks ahead. I doubt it will shape the vote, but small marks have been made that they must take advantage of, or risk losing the election completely.
By Connor Macgregor, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.