Few things we learned from UK election debate

Read few comments.

Ivor Gaber, Professor of Journalism, University of Sussex

1. The headline is that the debate was not decisive. No one made any great mistakes, no one soared above the rest.

2. The consensus is that Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP just shaded it. I agree.

3. Miliband continues to benefit from the debates because expectations about him were so low

4. Miliband and Cameron marked time neither advancing nor falling back

5. Despite fears I thought the format worked well and gave the viewing public a chance to measure the leaders of the major (and minor) parties against each other. This is particularly important given that the likely result is a hung parliament and therefor there will be a coalition of two or more parties. I thought the debate helped the democratic process.

6. It also made the case, even thought this was not the intention, for changing the UK voting system to one that is closer to proportional representation.

7. And brought into sharp contrast the failure of Cameron to agree to a head-to-head debate with Miliband. Pity, democracy loses out.

Martin Farr, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary British History, School of Historical Studies, University of Newcastle

It’s no wonder the public is confused as three of the seven participants claimed to have won, and had grounds for doing so. The newspapers are presenting it in convenient terms (Guardian: Miliband won; Telegraph: Cameron won). The event was absurd – most voters wouldn’t be able even to vote for two of the participants’ parties, and the emphasis placed on mistakes or zingers, etc – and Cameron achieved a great coup in avoiding a debate with Miliband. But the event is with us now, in one form or another. Whether this quiz-show pop-idol type affair can engage voters substantively with the election and the issues I rather doubt.

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