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Matthew Walsh: Ed’s only ‘victory’ was not to be as bad as expected

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The ‘Battle for Number 10’ last night has kept the Westminster Village busy at least.

There was even a rumour doing the rounds that one or two members of political parties outside the Village tuned in to watch Cameron and Miliband get a grilling Thursday night.

The search resumed at first light to try and find any undecided voters who bothered to watch Sky News/ Channel 4 at 9pm on a Thursday evening.

Most of the analysis since the ‘battle’ (it was more of a skirmish than a ‘battle’) suggested that Miliband, although losing the opinion poll by eight points, actually handled himself remarkably well.

I am pretty sure I was watching something else as what I witnessed was a man at sea without a compass.

From the start, faced with the general public he looked thoroughly uncomfortable.

He responded awkwardly, called a chap named ‘Dean’, ‘Tim’ and crept closer and closer toward poor Kay Burley.

Then came the Paxman interview, and at this point I actually felt sorry for Ed.

He didn’t answer any questions, he was unsure of what he stood for and seemed somewhat confused by Labour’s past record in Government.

He didn’t have a clue.

The only reason he has received so much praise in today’s press is because he didn’t do quite as badly as everybody thought he would.

“Am I tough enough? Hell yes I am tough enough to be Prime Minister”, said Ed, relaying a line he had clearly been rehearsing all week.

Apparently Ed hired £10,000 a day US media coach Michael Sheehan who has previously coached President Obama and Former President, Bill Clinton.

It is often said that UK politics is being ‘Americanised’ – dominated by gladiatorial battles with an increasing focus on individuals and some have said that the recent use of TV ‘head to heads’ in Britain is similar to those in the US.

We can only pray that the ‘Battle for Number 10’ was not being streamed to our American friends.

This is what the British people have to choose from and it is pretty depressing.

Ed became leader of the Labour Party by accident and has somehow clung on for dear life.

If his brother was in charge, Labour would be looking at securing a majority government in May. I know you it, Dave knows it. Even Ed knows it.

But Ed is where he is. And credit where credit is due.

For all his faults, Ed stands a marginally better chance of becoming Prime Minister this May than David Cameron.

David Cameron has fundamentally failed to win support for his party against an opposition leader who is, to be kind, a political lightweight.

Cameron failed to win a majority against Gordon Brown in 2010 – a man voted the worst Prime Minister and he will now poll even worse to a Labour Party led by Ed Miliband.

Neither Cameron nor Miliband won last night.

Both performances were lacklustre and unconvincing and besides, the vast majority of undecided voters will have either been out after work (Thursday is the new Friday) or watching something much more entertaining on another channel.

When the most interesting analysis revolves around the fact that Miliband wasn’t quite as bad as everybody thought he would be, it is fair to say that the election campaign has got off to a pretty dreadful start. Roll on May 8th.

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Matt Walsh
Matt is Corporate Director at Media Intelligence Partners

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