Election Debates

I'm sure we all saw the debates this week. The BBC and ITV have hauled the leaders of the main parties in front of an audience made up of their electorate, and the results were startling.

First we come to the debate between the two main party leaders on Tuesday night. It was interesting to see what should well have been a two hour, open contest, but one which was crammed into an intermittent presenter-fest, with Julie Etchingham cutting off both Jeremy Corbyn and more notably Boris Johnson at every opportunity that she got.

On reflection, I'm sure that the SNP and the Lib Dems are glad that they didn't manage to sue their way onto it - more damage than good would have come of it!

YouGov polling showed that Johnson won the debate, but Corbyn showed that he could perform in the face of Johnson and in front of the live audience.

Next came the BBC Question Time Special, with all of the party leaders facing the audience in turn. Unlike on Tuesday's debate, this was the chance for them to work the stage and give the audience thirty minutes of pure, uninterrupted answers.

It worked for two party leaders in particular. Johnson and Sturgeon won out.

We've all known for some time that whilst we may disagree completely with her, Sturgeon is a shrewd operator. She pulled off yet another sleek performance, setting the SNP aside from their Remain competition and drawing a line in the sand.

They will be formidable in Scotland this time round.

But whilst Sturgeon solidified her separatist agenda, Johnson came out and blew the trumpet for not just the Union, but for Brexit and Britain itself.

He responded calmly to challenging questions, in the face of an audience which took no prisoners. To be fair to them, they were equally brutal on the other parties leaders. Johnson got his policies across well, and his party duly went further up in the polls afterwards.

The manifesto launch should be interesting.

Whilst Johnson and Sturgeon enjoyed success, the same could not be said for Swinson and Corbyn. Whilst Swinson spent the entire time trying to justify not her policies but her party's raison d'etre, Corbyn offered us yet more confusion on Labour's Brexit policy, fudged his position on another Scottish referendum, exacerbated concerns about crippling spending and laying further siege to his credibility.

Yet another week of controversy, flip-flopping from Labour, separatism from Sturgeon and democracy denial from the Lib Dems. We can end the madness - use your vote wisely on Thursday 12th December.

Jack Rydeheard, Editor of the Conservative on Sunday for Conservative Progress