It may be too soon after the last Labour government for the British people to trust them again but last night’s first major general election ‘debate’ showed that Ed Miliband is ready to overcome the mistakes of the last Labour government by condemning their record on the Iraq war and the handling of spending and finances. But Ed Miliband used language that Labour should have never stopped using. He talked about redistribution of wealth, he defended tax rises and his pledge to cut tuition fees.
Battle for Number 10: Is Ed Miliband ready for Downing Street?
Despite a Guardian/ICM poll suggesting Cameron won the ‘debate’ it wasn’t quite as apparent to many viewers on social media, who believed Ed Miliband to be the winner. Even the audience seemed to think Ed Miliband came across better, winning applause early on in the question and answer session of the programme, where the PM had received none. Guardian readers later voted that Ed Miliband had won this.
Twitter showed that Kay Burley and self-confessed Conservative, Jeremy Paxman gave Cameron a harder grilling that Miliband. Burley would interrupt Ed Miliband with supplementary questions, but did not do the same for Cameron. Jeremy Paxman’s expected hard style interviewing began to waiver some what towards the end of Miliband’s interview as he got a figure wrong on wages and Miliband corrected him. He also seemed like he was winging it and when this happened, he went on the offensive against Ed Miliband’s character and image, calling him a geek. Miliband retorted by challenging claims of his weaknesses.
Cameron failed to address the toughest questions: his record on zero hour contracts and the rising number of people using food banks in Britain, fobbing the audience off with the ubiquitous: some people like being on zero hour contracts and the number of people turning to food banks is rising because of the raised awareness of them. His shtick came across as simply, too slick and too much like a father scolding his children for misbehaving when describing something that was unpopular. There were moments when he also misled the audience and lied to them. He was grilled by an audience member on privatisation of the NHS and said that charities were a good thing, but failed to mention private companies that were running many of the services across England.
The question for political pundits and the general public is this: are people more likely to vote for ‘suave, slick’ David Cameron who is a professional politician, born into a family of stockbrokers, or Ed Miliband, awkward yet honest and endearing, born to a family of refugees and well-known marxist scholar, Ralph Miliband? Ed Miliband shone last night, proving that interview technique can sometimes favour the person being interviewed. Many people who were undecided said they would vote Labour. If Miliband continues this performance, then we may be seeing red curtains up at 10 Downing Street on the 8th May.