UK Leaders’ Debate: Lessons For Next Time

By MARK PENN, US debates expert
Published April 16, 2010

The first UK election debate brought with it a real sense of interest and expectation.

Would there be a knock-out blow? Would any of the candidates slip up? How would they cope with the intense scrutiny and interrogation under the hot TV studio lights for 90 minutes?

At the end, many viewers may feel their expectations weren’t quite met.

There was no “you’re no Jack Kennedy” moment and none of the candidates lost their way.

In fact the only one who seemed really flustered by the experience was ITV’s host Alastair Stewart.

Yet there is still much to learn from the performances of the leaders in the first debate.

And it may well shift the political sands – it will take a few days to see how the real polls shift, but Labour may find itself with deeper problems, pecked upon from both the left and the right.

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