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Wednesday 20 November 2019

Last night, all six leaders of Britain’s major political parties appeared on broadcast television to make their bids for the public’s votes.

Naturally, the focus in this morning’s media is on Boris Johnson’s face off against Jeremy Corbyn on ITV, which Boris is widely judged to have edged. That may not sound very reassuring, but on the key question, namely Brexit, the Tory leader completely destroyed his rival. No less than nine times (see Daily Mail front page below) Corbyn refused to say whether he’d back his own deal that he proposes to negotiate with Brussels in the event he reaches Number 10.  His ninth denial was met with guffaws from the studio audience.

The imagination in Labour HQ only seems to extend to weird and not so wonderful ways of spending other people’s money. The only counter-attack Corbyn’s spinners have equipped him over Brexit with is to warn the NHS will be swallowed whole by a trade deal with the United States. How exactly this will happen, he never ventures to explain. Naturally Boris smashed him (see below): “Our NHS will never be for sale.”

Boris would have been able to capitalise on his opponent’s weaknesses, had the debate not been so truncated. Speakers were not given enough time to deliver their answers meaning Corbyn’s low-octane debating patter wasn’t exposed for its lack of substance, while Boris was made to look rude as he ran over his allotted time and clashed with moderator Julie Etchingham telling him to stop talking.

Etchingham finished the session off with a few trivial questions (this is a general election for goodness sake) about the monarchy and what each leader would give the other for Christmas. Those of us who had to go through the ordeal of watching Corbyn duel (if that’s the word) with Theresa May so pathetically at umpteen PMQ’s will have found the Labour leader’s quick answers inexplicably well-delivered. Boris struggled however.

Later in the evening on the same channel, the leaders of the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the Greens and Nigel Farage, the Brexit Party leader were all invited to give their one-one-one assessments of the debate in another tepid broadcast.

Later on and over at the BBC, Fiona Bruce had a more favourable time of it with a special version of Question Time featuring Nigel Farage, who was on fantastic form making an honest assessment of the state of our country, its politics, unfair and need of reform; the NHS, underfunded; and the future of industry, changing rapidly.

Naturally, audience members were encouraged to bother the great Brexiteer with pointless questions about the his party and how it’s financed, “not by big business or the trade unions”, was Nigel’s excellent response.

He delightfully enraged highly strung millenials by using the modern techy term “startup” to describe his eight-month old party. It really got in the craw of one audience member who would not let him answer her question, which of course had nothing to do with public policy or Brexit.

In spite of all that, Nigel’s performance was typically impressive, not to mention entertaining, the other appearances had been dull. After he’d rounded off the evening at midnight, looking back they seemed coma-inducing.