From the campaign trail: Much ado about debates

2 April 2015

The election debates signal a new era where "two party politics at Westminster is over" – or at least that was what SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon had to say about it.

The first debate of the short campaign period, and possibly the only debate to feature all the parties, is likely to create a media storm, and, according to BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson, will give the insurgent smaller parties "a status they and their predecessors have craved for decades and always been denied”.

Meanwhile, ITN newscaster Julie Etchingham, who will be chairing the debate, predicted that the debate could be used by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to “wash the dirty laundry of the Coalition in public”.

However, Telegraph Political Correspondent Matthew Holehouse has reported that Mr Clegg has insisted he can “do business” with Mr Cameron in a future Government, suggesting he may take a more conciliatory tone.

Newsweek has suggested that the debate will be dominated by “formerly fringe issues ranging from the UK leaving the European Union to scrapping the nuclear deterrent”.

Reports in the Guardian suggested that leading Conservative politicians were privately calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to pursue a lighter tone in the debates, but the newspaper suggested Mr Cameron was more likely to use the event to highlight the potential "chaos" of a left-leaning coalition.

Bookmakers William Hill have suggested that UKIP Leader Nigel Farage will be the victor in snap polls after the event, giving him odds of 13/8.

In a poll conducted by YouGov for the Times Red Box, 19 per cent of those polled suggested that David Cameron would perform best in the debate, more than any of the other leaders.

However, while Nigel Farage and Ed Miliband polled equally at 15 per cent, Mr Miliband had some reason for cheer given that only ten per cent had suggested he would win the debate before the TV interviews with broadcaster Jeremy Paxman.

The most telling statistic, however, may be that 40 per cent of those polled did not know who would win the debate.

Guardian Opinion Executive Editor Jonathan Freedland suggested that the event will “be a mess”, but, by including a larger number of party leaders, it “will better reflect Britain as it is”.

Madhav Bakshi, Political Analyst
Madhav Bakshi
Political Analyst

Madhav Bakshi is a Political Analyst within DeHavilland’s Editorial Team and leads on Energy policy. He is a graduate of King’s College London, where he studied International Politics.