Was the Leaders' Debate Cameron's 'Sheffield rally moment'?

The impact of the infamous Sheffield Rally on Neil Kinnock’s 1992 campaign is debatable. It took on emblematic significance after the election, rather than unarguably shifting the polls during the campaign.

But it remains short-hand for a campaign losing moment.

OK. David Cameron didn’t do anything dire during last week’s debate. There was nothing like Kinnock’s primeval cries of “Well, all right!” which will be repeated on the telly ad nauseam (including, one suspects, in his obituary videos).

But it is emerging that it was Cameron’s personal decision to have a three-way debate.

In fact, that was a decision with which I agree. – Good for democracy and all that.

But if you look at it from the point of view of the narrow partisan interests of the Conservative party, the debate has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. They’ve been struggling for ages to try to get above 40% in the polls – the magic figure associated with an overall majority in the Commons. Now this happens three weeks out and, instead of going up in the polls, they’ve gone down.



4 thoughts on “Was the Leaders' Debate Cameron's 'Sheffield rally moment'?

  1. Paul, not one of your finest posts. I’ll ignore the Sheffied Rally comparison as it is risible, but your last point is pspehologically wrong. You do not need 40% to get an overall majority, as Labour proved in 2005 when they got 35%. The poll lead is the key. The Conservatives could get a majority with far lower than 40%, as any pollster would be able to tell you.

  2. Like I said, the problem he’s got, is policy famine. The bigger issue, is that I don’t think the present cabinet deserve to be in power, yet a big Lib Dem vote is likely to help that.

    It must rank Lib Dems that they could get ~27% of the popular vote, but only get ~100 seats!

  3. I think all of the leaders messed up the debate. Nick Cleg got off to a brilliant start, but was too full of himself in the last debate. I’ve already described how, on the doorsteps, the don’t knows loved Nick after the first debate then reverted to don’t knows again after the third. Cameron was totally boring in the first debate but improved substantially by the third. Brown was all over the place.

    Cameron and Brown were over cautious because they’d eveything to lose, Clegg was too incautious because he had everything to gain. Part of the problem, I believe, was that none of the three had any experience of this sort of debate.

    The ‘X Factor’ presentation format was all wrong and I believe this contributed to the leaders’ presentation failures.

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