The EU debate - who won?
- 26 March 2014
- From the section UK Politics
Much will be written about who won and who lost this debate. For what it's worth one instant poll hands it to Mr Farage. That, though, ignores the reason both men agreed to take part. They knew they could both be winners.
Nick Clegg relished the chance to present himself as the leader of "the party of IN", the man willing to stand up to UKIP's populism who is using his stance to appeal to Tory and Labour pro-Europeans to lend him their votes.
Nigel Farage saw this as an opportunity to establish that his party is part of the political premier league and that he is more than a man with a pint, a fag and a jokey soundbite. He too is counting on those in the bigger parties to vote for him to make their views on Europe plain.
Both men were confident. Neither stumbled. However, the UKIP leader looked vulnerable when challenged to justify his party's inflated claims on the scale of immigration and the cost of the EU. The Lib Dem leader looked least comfortable when trying to defend past promises that voters would get a referendum and would get EU reform.
Few voters were likely to be watching or listening weighing up whether to back Farage or Clegg. What the leaders of Britain's smaller parties want was the status of men prepared to stand up and fight for what they really believe.