Getting underway very shortly is the second round of TV election debates. Last week, David Cameron and Ed Miliband appeared on Channel 4 and Sky News in separate Q&A sessions.
Tonight, the British public will see the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems, UKIP, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru.
Here’s a brief summary of their respective leaders:
- Conservatives – David Cameron: The current PM has a disadvantage because he has a record in government to defend. It will be the other parties’ only chance to directly debate the Mr Cameron on his record in government seeing as he has refused to take part in other debates. It’s likely they will go at him hard. The Conservatives will probably take a hit tonight but will ultimately survive it.
- Labour – Ed Miliband: The leader of the opposition has been disparaged ever since he was voted to the role in 2010. However, personal attacks from Paxman last week and Miliband’s subsequent response may have been the catalyst for a turning of the tide. Since then, Ed has come across really well in interviews but he faces a really tough challenge tonight to hold off attacks from the left. The Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP are all baying for blood.
- Liberal Democrats – Nick Clegg: Like David Cameron, he has a record to defend. As part of the coalition government, the Lib Dems have taken a pounding in their support. Nick Clegg will be looking to regain the centre ground which made him so popular back in 2010 where he dominated the debates. He’s not the new kid on the block anymore so he’ll find it less easy this time.
- UKIP – Nigel Farage: His main target will be the PM. He will target broken promises on a referendum, the impossibility of renegotiating a new deal with the EU and a failure by the Conservatives to control immigration. Nigel’s points of attack are clear and predictable. Seen widely as the best debator, there are a lot of expectations on Farage and I’m half expecting him to flop.
- Greens – Natalie Bennett: Standing on the left of politics, the Green’s natural enemies are the Tories and UKIP. However, they’ll be attacking Labour in order to win votes from them. Natalie Bennett has an awful track record for screwing up live interviews so expectations on her are pretty much below zero. I can’t see her being a surprise package.
- SNP – Nicola Sturgeon: A slightly different leader to her predecessor Alex Salmond to say the least. Nevertheless, she is very competent and a good speaker. She’ll be fiery no doubt but will it play well with a UK-based audience as opposed to the Scottish audience she is used to?
- Plaid Cymru – Leanne Wood: She’s probably the one you’re least likely to have heard of. Plaid are not the most popular party in Wales and there’s little sign of that changing. No doubt that Leanne Wood will be sticking to Welsh issues alone and I doubt that she’ll add much to the debate.