Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

How we scored the leaders’ performance

Ratings for each party leader's performace in the third and final television debate

David Cameron 7/10

His best debate performance by some distance. Much more forceful in making his points, and started with a very strong opening statement.

Its reference to having an economy that is “making things again” pre-empted one of the early questions from the audience.

Cameron made some telling points against Brown, and drew attention to the shortcomings of the Labour Government’s record. Kept talking about the “13 years” Brown and co have been in office. That's an effective point to make.

The Tory leader was put on the defensive a bit over inheritance tax and the plan to include banks in a corporation tax cut.

But he also managed to sound populist about the need to regulate the banking industry.

This was much more like the Cameron who wins in Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons.

Nick Clegg 6/10

This will go down as something of a disappointment for the Liberal Democrat leader.

Clegg suffered from the fact that there were more direct and sharp exchanges between Cameron and Brown in this debate. This created an impression that he was being bypassed at times.

Despite his previous strong performances, Clegg did not look that confident in his opening address. He also appeared a little hot and bothered as the night wore on.

Clegg also made a sharp retort to Cameron at one point on “tax breaks to double millionaires”. But his central message against the other two parties and their “political point scoring” was in danger of sounding worn. He has left himself to accusations of being a “one trick pony”.

Gordon Brown 5/10

Needed a knock-out performance after the “bigoted woman” embarrassment of the previous day. The knock-out did not happen, and was never likely to.

Took the decision to reference the Gillian Duffy incident in his opening statement — “As you saw yesterday, I don’t get all of it right.”

Some of his early points — like Tories risking a double-dip recession — had already been covered repeatedly in the two earlier debates..

Clearly, a major theme for Brown was to hammer home that the Tories have not changed from the days of Thatcher. Used phrases like “the same old Conservative Party” repeatedly. But he seemed to be under the impression that child tax credits are a make or break issue in the election.



Overall verdict: Once again the debate was too long, and it will be interesting to see if the viewing figures slumped as it dragged on. There was too much repetition from last week, with the immigration debate almost being re-run word for word at times.

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