Election 2015 England

The passion of political debate

Ed Milliband (left) in the General Election leaders' debate in Salford Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Which of the party leaders has showed the passion to win the General Election?

When a man died in ancient Greece, they didn't write epitaphs or obituaries. They just asked one question: "Did he have passion?"

And that's why, in those days, passion was a pretty handy thing to have if you wanted to be remembered for more than five minutes anyway.

And it's also true in modern politics, especially when it comes to election debates. Are you inspired by someone who mumbles half-heartedly through some pre-prepared lines? Or do you want their "off the cuff" words to come alive and sparkle in the air?

At last week's debate in Heywood & Middleton, which was broadcast live on BBC Radio Manchester, there was passion in buckets and much of it came from the audience as they interrupted the candidates and shouted their points of view.

Some of it was bordering on impolite but who wants to go to a polite debate? If it matters to you then it's worth sticking your hand up and having your say.

Image caption UKIP candidate for Heywood and Middleton John Bickley clashed over immigration in the North West election debate

It was an hour of strong views and disagreements and it was great to watch and a fabulous listen. The candidates stood their ground and expressed their views.

Most importantly, hopefully listeners will now have a clearer idea of who they want to vote for!

At 19:00 BST, we will have the last of our debates and it's in Bolton West where Labour are hoping to hold on in the face of a determined Conservative challenge.

When the candidates are practising their party mantras, they'll no doubt also be rehearsing them with vigour and authenticity because that's what being passionate seems to be all about these says.

And they certainly won't be alone in that quest.

A rush of blood?

"Hell yes, I'm tough enough!" said Labour leader Ed Miliband when he was challenged over whether he could stand up to the likes of Vladimir Putin. He answered it so passionately you got the feeling he even surprised himself.

His rival for the top job, Conservative David Cameron, has been dogged by accusations that he's lacked passion throughout the campaign but he tried to put that to bed earlier this week by saying "bloody" in an interview.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Did Neil Kinnock experience a rush of blood during the 1992 General Election campaign?

Cleary backed into a corner after a Tory peer described him as not the "slightest bit inspiring", he fell back on the old "I'm so passionate I've actually accidently used a mild swear word!" technique. We've all done it.

Having been attempting to look really keen but not desperate since January, it's easy to appreciate that candidates must be tired by now but the last week of a campaign is no time to let the "passion stakes" wain.

A word of warning though for politicians planning to step up their game in the final days… A near bedfellow of passion is enthusiasm. One step further and you're "over-enthusiastic" and that never really goes down well.

You may remember Neil Kinnock's speech at a rally just days before he lost the General Election in 1992 when he excitably shrieked "We're alright!" three times as the audience cheered.

The rest of the country weren't quite as impressed and Mr Kinnock came to rue what he described as a "rush of blood".

He later reflected it cost him the election. Nothing kills the passion quite like a self-inflicted defeat.


BBC News Timeliner: A Major surprise

Image copyright Getty Images

The general election of 1992 did not produce the predicted result, as a quick delve into the BBC archives displays.

Watch video from the vaults on the BBC News Timeliner


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