The Welsh Leaders on the BBC

I have to say that I was plesantly suprised by last night's Welsh Leaders debate on the BBC. Unlike the British Prime Ministeraial debates the discussion was free flowing, interesting and one in which all parties had something worth contributing to the discussion.

Rather than feeling that one representative had won my main feeling at the end of the programme was one of pride that Wales is spoiled for choice between such exceptional talent from all four main parties and even from some of the minor parties that had a word in.

Whilst the London media feeds on a frenzy of loss of faith in politicians who are in politics for what they can get out of it, seeing the leaders of the four main Welsh Parties pleading from the heart for us to vote for what is best for Wales was like a breath of fresh air blowing through the putrid current of the present election campaign

Peter Hain had a mountain to climb, it's hard for a rep from the party that has been at the helm for many years to ask for more time to introduce even better results, especially when many of us believe that the country has gone to the dogs under their watch. I felt that Peter succeeded exceptionally well to deliver that message despite the strained circumstances.

Apparently, travel difficulties were responsible for Nick Bourn taking over from Cheryl Gillian as the leader of the Welsh Conservatives last night, not the feeling that she had bombed in the previous two debates. Whatever the reason I suspect that most Welsh Conservatives will be glad that Nick Bourn took her place. He succeeded to translate Conservative Unionist policy into something that was relevant to Wales and Welsh localities with aplomb. Nick turned Cameron's Big Society idea around into an idea of lots of small societies an idea that has more appeal in Wales and is probably what Cameron meant anyway, but failed to articulate as well as Nick did!

In the previous two Welsh debates Kirsty Williams came across as over excitable, squeaky, and too stuck to the script. Last night she had obviously thrown the script away – she was herself, and she came across as a person who passionately believes in Liberal Democracy and the benefits that it could provide for Wales. By speaking from the heart rather than from the script Kirsty was at the top of her game and last night her contribution was the best ever that I have seen from her since she became her party's Welsh leader, she showed elements of a charisma that I didn't think that she possessed.

Ieuan Wyn! Wow! I was bowled over by his performance. He may only be Deputy First Minister but he had the gravitas of a president. He had all the facts at his fingertips, where compromise was needed he compromised, where he needed to stand alone for the sake of righteousness, he justified standing alone with authority, he was electrifying, amazing, fantastic.

The Strictly Come Politicking marks are high, very high:
Ieuan 9.9
Nick 9.6
Kirsty 9.5
Peter 9.4

Only a hair's breadth between Ieuan in first and Peter in fourth, but the reason why Ieuan doesn't get the perfect 10 is because that accolade goes to Betsan Powys and BBC Wales for producing the most informative, interesting and watchable of all 12 Leaders Debate Programmes – Congratulation to both.


  1. It was quite clearly the best of the debates I've seen so far and should've been the format for the three "main" debates. I guess it wouldn't have had enough confrontation and formality for the Westminster Parties though. I hope we see these debates for the Assembly elections next year!

    IWJ was assured and gave a confident performance, arguably his best of the three Welsh debates. I was impressed by his handling of non-devolved questions, especially foreign affairs/Afghan War.

    Peter Hain's anti-Tory rhetoric has built up slowly over the debates and was now sounding tired. His final statement reeked of desperation. We get it Peter, you don't like Tories.

    Kirsty Williams was caught out by the post office question and showed some inexperience and possibly fatigue. I think the novelty has worn off now but she will be a formidable opponent in the future and a great asset to the Welsh Lib Dems.

    Replacing Governor Cheryl with Nick Bourne was a godsend for the Conservatives. He was a lot more positive and constructive and didn't resort to blind attacks on Labour in the same way Peter Hain had done with the Tories.

    IWJ 8/10
    NB 7/10
    PH 6/10
    KW 6/10

  2. I wasn't so enthusiastic in my own take on the debate, but agree in general. There was a degree of agreement between the panelists, and also disagreement as well. So you had both consensus AND real dividing lines. Only a genuinely proportional Welsh context can achieve that. The stale Westminster context does not allow any co-operation because the automatically white, make-up clad male politicians are forced by their scriptwriters to pretend to disagree with each other.

    Ironically, the worst parts of last night's debates were the parts they copied from the London debates with the party political statements.

    The tragedy is that few will have watched last night's debate.

  3. I always listen to my wife for a verdict on these things - as she does not take much interest in politics -
    She was very impressed with IWJ and asked if he was standing for prime minister as she would vote for him - she was non-committal on Nick & Kirsty - and took a strong dislike to Hain particulary his persistent attacks on the Conservatives - "Doesnt he have anything positive to say??"

    It is a pity that it will not have had a big audience.