It’s been a long time coming, for many people too long given how disappointed the electorate was when the two main parties refused to verbally duke it out, live on TV, a week ago.
As tonight’s Leader’s Debate takes place in our own hometown (well, almost; Salford Quays is close enough to Smoking Gun’s Manchester base) we thought it might be a nice idea, or at least a little amusing, to try and put a little public relations spin on the much-hyped event. Without further ado, then, we present an expert’s analysis of what those taking part would be told if they were brands in need of PR tips.
David Cameron – The market leader
Love or loathe the Tories, nobody can deny that David Cameron is the market leader. Not only do opinion polls continue to show he’s just ahead of the competition, he’s the current Prime Minister- first amongst equals, if you will. As such, the race is his to lose in many ways, but whilst he’s clearly an expert at public addresses there’s no guarantee he will play it cool tonight.
Top tip: Do not, under any circumstances, say something stupid that shows you obviously think the election is won before voters hit the booths, and don’t avoid questions on whether you could raise a family on the current minimum wage. Honesty counts for much lots of people don’t trust you.
Nick Clegg – Firm fighting fallout from PR crisis
It’s safe to say the Liberal Democrats have had a rough time of the Coalition. Many believed they would balance out the Conservative end of the deal with more humanist, community-focused policies. Many were wrong. As such the party’s head honcho Clegg has his work cut out getting anyone to listen to him at all, let alone convincing them to vote. Nevertheless, never say never.
Top tip: Admit you were wrong, issue an apology and try to show how things might be different next time round whilst not fully taking responsibility for every single atrocious decision to come from Number 10 in the current term of office. Oh, and stay neutral between Labour and Conservatives, you don’t know which will be on your side in the future.
Ed Miliband – Sleeping giant in need of sales boost
Whilst we’ve all got over the whole ‘I went up against my brother and won’ thing, most of us haven’t got beyond the question of whether this guy can really represent the UK on an international level. And that’s a huge problem, particularly when 100 business leaders issued a warning this week that Labour economic policy could send Britain back five years in terms of recovery. It’s up to him to tell them otherwise.
Top tip: Don’t eat anything. Don’t reference Second Kitchen-gate, but do focus on the statistical evidence to show The Big Society really isn’t working for many people on the street. Similarly, referencing figures that show Coalition austerity is too harsh might be an idea, and show no fear or hesitation.
Nigel Farage – Heritage brand
It’s amazing that, despite numerous embarrassments relating to the racist and xenophobic attitudes of members, the UK Independence Party still seems to be pulling in the crowds. Then again, given how disillusioned people are with the Big Three, perhaps the ongoing interest in a camp that has bringing back smoking in pubs as a policy isn’t as shocking as it first seems. Traditional to the last, Farage doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of winning, but nor does he have anything to lose.
Top tip: Try not to come across as a crazed isolationist who values tweed jackets and the false image of a perfect English country village more than multiculturalism, a competitive workforce made possible thanks to the educated emigre, and humanitarian concepts such as asylum.
Natalie Bennett – The challenger
Many of ‘the undecideds’ are pondering on whether a vote for Natalie Bennett’s Greens is likely to be worth it. Either way, this could well be the biggest success for the party since forever, largely because of a potential Labour and Lib Dem exodus comprising people who want to change society for the better. This needs to be the emphasis of any debate for the lady in question.
Top tip: Whether it’s coffee or tea, please make sure you have plenty of caffeine before taking to the podium, as we all know there’s a tendency for ‘brain fade’ to set in- or at least those of us who saw her lose her train of thought mid-sentence during an LBC interview earlier this year do.
Leanne Wood – The SME
Plaid Cymru is being sold as a real alternative to the austerity measures Westminster is forcing upon Wales, and whilst the vast majority of the UK population lives elsewhere this is still a major issue for Labour, which stands to lose plenty of votes to the party, largely from the disenfranchised old school left put out by their traditional favourite’s centralist stance. We’d say that’s plenty of fuel to attack all three of the big parties, and it would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity.
Top tip: Just because you’re smaller and don’t have influence on many people’s lives doesn’t mean you can’t shout just as loud. Except don’t shout, say things with commitment and confidence. In fact, just make sure you say some things.
Nicola Sturgeon – The rebel
Could the SNP really form a coalition with Labour? That’s been a quandary banded about relentlessly over the last few months. Given the majority of Labour’s faithful would sooner see any combination of candidates other than the Tories sitting in Downing Street after the election this could be useful ammunition in the overall debate- emphasising how votes north of Hadrian’s Wall aimed in this direction won’t go down the toilet when the crosses are counted.
Top tip: Steer well clear of any comments that allude to Scottish independence, and don’t suggest there will be a coalition formed with Labour, merely highlight how many different outcomes there could be in 2015.