Watched by 9.4 million viewers, The First Election Debate aired recently on ITV1 for a whole ninety minutes of prime time TV. This first live debate between the political heavyweights- the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party Nick Clegg, the leader of the Conservative party David Cameron and the Prime Minister Gordon Brown saw them slog it out in an attempt to try to win your vote, in the run up to the 2010 General Election.

The live debate held in Manchester focused on domestic affairs with topics such as health care, immigration, crime, political reform, and education discussed and argued out between the politicians with questions from a studio audience. Nick Clegg to me seemed victorious in convincing the audience of his character and his party policies. Instant polling and after-show commentary suggest the same- that Nick Clegg won this first round of debate. Indeed I think for some, including myself, we now know Nick Clegg exists and has a voice.

Nick Clegg seemed young and fresh and although he sometimes stumbled and perhaps overreached with some of his policy ideas, he connected well with the audience. His open body language and earnest yet relaxed manner added to his positive performance. Clegg got in a good shot, pointing the finger of blame at his two common enemies Brown and Cameron with regards to the MPs’ expenses scandal. We knew this contentious and popular topic would rear its ugly head (and quite rightly so) and Clegg utilised this to good effect.

David Cameron failed in the debate. He seemed to be posing, was controlling and had too much of the spin about him, his answers appeared too scripted and slick. Cameron seemed over-prepared for the debate. I also noted Cameron’s controlling behaviour at the very end of the debate, as he attempted to instruct, and then grabbed at Clegg’s arm like a spoilt and petulant child, whilst Brown ambled off towards the audience to shake the audience member’s hands. Made me laugh a bit.

Gordon Brown was confident and affable, he constantly deferred to Clegg, perhaps a deliberate ploy to cosy up to the underdog. Brown came across well and answered the audience’s questions competently. Naturally Cameron and Brown argued a lot and Clegg was able to use this to his advantage.

The three politicians contested their points and the messages they wanted to convey, with Clegg coming out on top, Cameron lagging far behind despite being obviously articulate and polished, and Brown seeming knowledgeable, stable and consistent. This first election debate allowed the voting, non-voting and floating voters to access our major politicians in a new way.

What do you guys think? Will you be voting on May 6th? Here’s a link to the Debate (tough it out, it’s worth watching.)