Monday, January 16, 2006

Debate Verdict

I didn't manage to find a Sky television to watch the debate on, but bloggers have been offering their summaries.

The headline is that nobody had a knockout punch or suicidal gaffe.

Will Howells confirms this:

There was no clear winner in the debate, and subtle policy differences only between the candidates. Campbell held his ground, although dodged a question on private involvement in the NHS. Given that Huhne should, by conventional wisdom, have been miles behind the other three and gave a strong performance, he was the candidate with whom I was most impressed.

The liberati warmed my heart by seeing a victory for Huhne:

1st, Chris: good interventions, best on policy. Absolutely creamed Oaten on his attempts to claim the Liberal crown. Delighted to hear him critical of road user charging (preferring higher fuel duties) and his general candidness about environmental policy. Also, by far the strongest on public sector reform.

James Thompson was also really impressed by Huhne, but hasn't been convinced to vote for him ahead of Hughes and Oaten:

Whilst it re-affirmed my backing for Simon Hughes, it did leave me unsure as to where my second preference vote will go to. I was extremely impressed with all 4 candidates. Whoever wins the contest, I will be happy for them to lead my party.

Chris Huhne impressed me, I had never heard him speak before. But, I do think at the moment my second preference will be Mark Oaten.

Rob Fenwick caused trouble for Menzies Campbell, by submitting this question, which was used in the debate:

SKY: Let’s talk about the environment, an important issue that Lib Dems certainly put at the centre of the ground. This question from Rob Fenwick: “Both Ming Campbell and Chris Huhne claim that the environment is of paramount importance. Chris Huhne owns a hybrid electric car, a Toyota Prius. Is it correct that Ming Campbell owns not one but TWO Jaguars? And if so, how does that square with a supposed commitment to the environment?.” A gas guzzler, Sir Mingis?

Stephen Glenn finds consensus in the outcome of the candidates' answers:

All in all I think the four will actually face far tougher questions at hustings with party members as these are the people who will be really looking for differences between the candidates and who will know which buttons to press. All in all apart for the occasional difference in opinion and rhetoric it was clear that we are a party largely facing in the same direction.