Now that all the political parties have published their manifestos, before the general election on June 8, it was entirely appropriate that a television debate be broadcast so that all the leaders could be quizzed about their aims and ambitions. However, with Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May’s absence, last night’s Leaders' Debate on ITV 1 was a lacklustre and awkward piece of forgettable viewing.
Only 1.6 million tuned in to see Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Tim Farron (Liberal Democrat), Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru), Caroline Lucas (Green Party) and Paul Nuttall (UKIP) put under the spotlight, a total comparable to Big Brother viewing figures and that comes nowhere near the audience that tuned into Happy Valley, Line of Duty or Broadchurch.
Given the resurgence in political debate in the country since the referendum last year and the subsequent interest in how Brexit will affect the economy, it is interesting that the majority tuned into EastEnders’ offshoot Redwater and turned away from politicking.
Of course, while it was a great vehicle for those parties who regularly receive less publicity than the Conservatives or Labour, unfortunately the level of debate was decidedly average and at times farcical. Nuttall’s insistence on calling Leanne ‘Natalie’ exemplified his complete lack of credibility, whilst for most watching in the UK, hearing the voices for Wales and Scotland felt entirely irrelevant.
Of those present, the only real benefit was derived by Caroline Lucas, whose intelligence, charisma, charm and lucidity crowned her the most outstanding politician on the night on social media.
Given the current stand-off by May and Corbyn to appear simultaneously on any TV debate, thoughts are turning towards the American political system, where contenders for political office are obliged by law to participate.
Of course, that solution would mean that the Labour and Tory leaders had to take part and be scrutinized in front of the nation, but on the negative side does mean characters like Mr Donald Trump could emerge to monopolise the airwaves with purely narcissistic intentions.
There will be much analysis of the efficacy of last night’s programme to either the electorate or the politicians, but one thing is clear and that is that Kat and Alfie Moon got the country’s vote yesterday.