Exclusive behind the scenes audience reaction to political debate


Audience members at the latest live televised leaders’ debate gave the second round to David Cameron, who they say ‘won on points’.

Viewers watched as the Tory leader gave a ‘polished performance’ to win back voters he may have lost after Nick Clegg’s impressive showing in the first debate.

But they said no leader is yet to land the knockout blow, and predicted a tight finish in next month’s election.

The build-up to the debate was marred by political demonstrations as over 200 Anti- war protesters and far-right activists clashed outside Bristol’s Arnolfini arts centre.

But audience members said the real battle took place on the podium.

Divorced financial controller Karen Walker, 53, who was ”Tory through and through” before the first debate said she was ”swayed” by Nick Clegg, but said Cameron ha won her vote back.

She said: ”It was a brilliant experience and was really useful to see the leaders go head-to-head.

”I have been Tory through and through my whole life but last week Nick Clegg’s performance did sway me slightly.

”But I thought David Cameron was so strong and he’s won my vote back.

”It was a very polished performance and I felt he addressed the questions with more confidence than anyone else.

”Gordon Brown was again weak. Better than last week but still weak.”

GP Coleen Campbell, 43, a married mum-of-three, from Bath, said: ”They all came across very well and was much more impressed than I thought I would be.

”I thought I would be more sure about who I would vote for. I preferred it when they talked about policies and find the bickering a little tedious.

”There wasn’t really a winner and I’m still undecided.

”Unfortunately, the debate didn’t really resolve my concerns and I’m still a floating voter.”

Business development manager Andy Nelson, 32, from Totterdown, Bristol, said: ”It’ nice to see the leaders speaking off the cuff for themselves.

”I particularly enjoyed watching David Cameron and Gordon Brown sparring although, again, I felt Gordon Brown was out of his depth.

”For me, David Cameron came out on top.”

Andrew Pring, 44, an NHS statistician from Congresbury, near Bristol, said: ”Nick Clegg’s positivity really shone through. He’s clearly ready to embrace change, which I think is appealing.

”Nick Clegg came out on top again.”

Political demonstrations marred the build-up as six people were arrested for public order offences.

A small group of English Defence League members were given a police escort as they gathered outside the venue.

Dozens of police, mounted officers and police dogs separated them from anti-war protesters as tensions rose outside Bristol’s Arnolfini arts centre at around 6pm.

Anti-war protesters blocked buses carrying audience members as they waved ‘Troops home’ and ‘Stop the war’ placards.

Gordon Brown arrived at the venue at 7.30pm to a chorus of boos and jeers as dozens lined the riverbank to hurl abuse.

There were also a small number of Palestine campaigners, anti-capitalists and Fathers4justice activists who gathered outside the centre.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said six people were arrested under public under order offences.

She said: ”We had planned for peaceful protests and there have been multiple protests in a number of locations across the city.

”They have been completely peaceful and compliant with our requests.”


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