Thursday’s leaders’ debate was nowhere near as smooth as we might have expected. At the outset, each of the speakers appeared nervous. Non-verbally, I found the interaction between Nick Clegg and David Cameron most interesting. Given greater pressure, I wonder how civil they can remain? Tactically, I’d like to see the LibDems test it.
At 13’50”, Clegg’s visibly relaxed & moves to face Cameron’s question. He’ll repeat this throughout, it shows him as unafraid and respectful of the other two’s words for example at 1:07’50” and 1:15’57”. Contrast the effect it leaves you with to Cameron staying clear of Clegg at 1:18’00”.
Cameron laughs to introduce scorn when putting his question at 14’11”, he repeats this at 33’22” to no greater effect. Clegg’s echo of the initial laugh is forced, he’s leaking disdain. He turns back to the audience and camera to give his answer, cut the others out and build rapport and relationship. Cameron almost scowls at 14’19” when he realises that he’s lost the point and that Clegg won’t be easy to belittle. This is repeated at 54′.
At 1:15” Clegg surprises Cameron with his attack. Cameron’s eye movements suggest he’s processing and trying to imagine a response but instead he attacks Brown.
Clegg picks the wrong competition at 1:20′, bidding against Cameron in an auction to win the cheezefest. It’s a wonder that they don’t start referring to the “Great British Public” save that this would reduce the number of times they can say “care” whilst looking doey eyed into the camera. Both increase the speed and tone of their voices to a similar rate. Notably, at 1:22’04”, Brown contrasts this and sounds poised and authoritative. 1:25’05” is the most interesting point in the debate for me. Clegg can’t acknowledge Cameron by name and contrasts other points in the debate in that he starts a speech following Cameron turned away from him. It’s not only a tactic of not agreeing verbally with your opponent that all the speakers will have been briefed on from watching Kennedy v. Nixon. Clegg chokes slightly rather than acknowledge Cameron. Has he conceded the point that he’s been out schmaltzed or does he find the man loathsome?