Sketch: Clegg wins, Brown survives, Cameron loses

David Cameron was the big loser of tonight’s disappointing debate.

By Matthew West

Well that’s that then I guess. History made but really wasn’t it all a little underwhelming?

Dave looked the most nervous – as if he was in trouble and was waiting outside the headmaster’s office about to receive six of the best – Gordon’s tie wasn’t on straight and Nick was wearing the worst lipstick but the best suit. But did we really learn anything?

I mean really anything at all? Cameron’s summing up speech on why people should vote for him was simply soundbite after soundbite after soundbite. Half of it appeared to have been lifted from his autumn conference speech. Has he run out of ideas or just run out of good speechwriters? He’s been using the same material for so long now it’s becoming really stale, like a stand up who can’t create new material.

Brown tried desperately to land a few blows on the Tory leader but failed at the start until he made a funny about the Conservative posters of him. Although he massively fluffed his lines that didn’t matter a jot, he still landed the blow first of all of the leaders and the fact that the studio audience laughed obviously, visibly, made him relax.

Brown had a better sense of theatre than Cameron, when Cameron said something he didn’t agree with he shook his head. When Cameron said something he believed was outrageously untrue he challenged him. When Nick Clegg said something he agreed with he nodded repeatedly. The prime minister was more willing to debate the issues than the Tory leader. He looked comfortable – well, as comfortable as Gordon Brown can ever look, anyway.

But we still didn’t get a debate. Mostly because David Cameron refused to debate with the other two leaders. He did however become preoccupied with telling the audience he was one of them, bringing his children into the debate no less than five times, when talking about education and the NHS and his mother once when talking about crime – of all things – and yep she was a magistrate rather than an upper class kleptomaniac, more’s the pity.

He also for some bizarre reason thought that we needed to spend £100 billion over the next 20 years on new Trident nuclear weapons so that we can pick a fight with China – the country with the biggest standing army in the world! Apart from appearing to want to start a diplomatic row is the man deranged?

The immediate poll following the leader’s debate showed Nick Clegg came off the better of the three party leaders.

There is absolutely no reason he should have particularly, but maybe it was that there was less focus on him, less expectation to be slick, to perform well.

Maybe there was less pressure on Clegg because the challenge he faced wasn’t to show that he was an intellectual heavyweight.

No one has ever really challenged Clegg’s intellect. They have Cameron’s.

Clegg looked comfortable. He actually quite genuinely looked as if he was having fun and a lot of fun at that. He also did one thing the other two didn’t. He worked the camera. He talked directly to it. Which meant he talked directly to the people watching the television. Neither David Cameron or Gordon Brown managed that. Cameron tried but failed to focus on the camera, he was too preoccupied with the studio audience, and Brown was too preoccupied with Cameron to notice anyone else.

But of all of them only one looked uncomfortable. The only one looking like he wasn’t having a good time was the Tory leader who wants to be the next prime minister.

Based on this performance David Cameron ain’t going to be that guy.