Thursday, June 17, 2010

Newsnight hustings

Up to date as ever, I thought I'd pen a few brief thoughts on the car crash that was Tuesday evening's Newsnight hustings. Paxman really didn't keep control of the event, which was always going to be difficult with five candidates, but degenerated all too rapidly into confusion.

Although he had a shaky start, I was increasingly impressed by David Miliband. Once he got into his stride, his tendency to behave like an automaton seemed to vanish and his grasp of the issues was thorough, allowing him to put across some points quite powerfully. I've tended to favour his brother, Ed, who also had some good moments, but seemed a little weaker and unsure throughout. Andy Burnham is making up the numbers here - some of his answers on issues around civil liberties weren't in tune with the direction of the public and I'm not sure that ID cards are a votewinner again. Ed Balls was OK, quite combative, but floundered on occasion and Diane Abbott looked the most relaxed with the whole thing - all those long hours on the This Week sofa have paid off, as she was quite at home, talking to a wider audience, even if Paxman didn't really give her a fair crack of the whip.

As that was one of the few opportunities that Labour members outside London will get to see the slate of candidates in action, it was disappointing that it wasn't better chaired by Paxman. On balance, I think that Miliband D had the edge over Miliband E, who seemed decidedly lacklustre.

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