Thursday, March 26, 2015

First leaders' "debate" demonstrates why SNP inclusion was so vital

You might remember that after the first Salmond v Darling debate in advance of the referendum, there was just one instant reaction poll with a very small sample size, which showed by a relatively narrow margin that the viewers thought Darling had been the better performer.  The entire narrative of a Darling victory was founded solely on that one poll, in spite of its limitations.  I wondered at the time what would have happened if the journalists' desired narrative had been frustrated by the poll indicating a narrow Salmond win - which could easily have been the case, given that only a small number of respondents were required to swing the balance in either direction.

We're seeing a scenario of that sort play out tonight, because the media would probably quite like to award a victory to Ed Miliband, not because they support Labour, but because the underdog coming out on top is the better story.  However, the ICM instant reaction poll (which admittedly has a bigger sample this time) is stubbornly refusing to give them permission to do so, with Cameron being declared the winner by 54% to 46%.  It'll be interesting to see what angle is taken tomorrow - I suppose there's still scope to spin it as the hopeless Miliband exceeding expectations, and almost nicking a plucky draw.

For what it's worth, I do actually think that Miliband came out on top, and that reaffirms the overwhelming importance of us having fought so hard for SNP inclusion in the real leaders' debate next week.  There's always a chance that your main opponent might do better than expected, and if you're not even in the room to counteract that, you've got a major problem.


David Cameron 98
Ed Miliband 77

(The Scot Goes Pop Brick Index indicates how much out of a score of 100 I wanted to throw a brick at the TV while the leader in question was speaking.  Lower scores are better, therefore Miliband was the "winner".)


  1. Sorry James got to disagree with you on that.

    I thought Cameron was evasive, but used the argument that he wasn't aware of the problems before he took office, so had to adjust his policies accordingly.

    I was surprised he didn't use the argument more, that since he was in a coalition he had to also allow for the Liberals input. (I missed the beginning of his grilling from Paxman so he might have indeed said this)

    I thought Ed was surprisingly good with the audience questions, but his main problem is he has came over as weak and not leadership material, so he needed to be strong with the Paxman grilling.

    I'm afraid he was badly bullied and the audience began to snigger at his discomfort, which only served to make him look even more weak.

    He began to pull himself together and fight back, but I felt that by the end Paxman was toying with him, and the bit as the credits rolled when you heard Paxman asking Milliband, 'are you alright Ed' seemed to confirm this.

    In the overall needs of both men, I think Ed failed in his one overall objective, to show he was a strong enough character to lead the UK.

    It's one of those situations, that like you mention, the public were expecting Ed to do really badly tonight, so the surprise that he didn't fall apart and mutter like a wreck, made hi look better than expected, but over the next few days people will remember how he was bullied by Paxman at the beginning and that is what will stick.

    Labour Lose.

  2. Does anyone know if there is a Scottish reaction poll lined up for the leaders debates?

    1. I haven't heard anything definite yet. If all else fails, we'll just have to make a song and dance about the Scottish subsample figures (assuming they're published).

  3. I didn't watch the whole thing, but from what I saw Cameron was less well prepared and given softer questions. I don't think Miliband would be so easily let away with saying he doesn't know how many food banks there are.

  4. Was fascinated to hear that 2.8m were watching the latter part of Cameron's performance, which rose to 3m at the outset of Miliband's only for it to fall to 1m by the end.

    I feel somehow responsible because I didn't watch Cameron at all, turn it on not long after Miliband started only to turn off again after five minute of cringing. I find I can't listen to him at the best of times but when you have to suffer looking at his obviously coached and inauthentic mannerisms at the same time, it is too much.