Norwich views on TV election debate

Sarah HallThe televised debate between the leaders of the three main political parties last week really brought this general election to life.Here's what the members of the Evening News' citizen panel have made of the campaign so far.Sarah Hall

The televised debate between the leaders of the three main political parties last week really brought this general election to life.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was the man who emerged as the star of that showdown and opinion polls have shown his party were the big winners.

But a week is a long time in politics, so with another live debate on Sky News tonight, has his party capitalised on their breakthrough?

We asked the Evening News citizen panel, a range of people from around the city, what they have made of the campaign so far…


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Chris Higgins, 55, is landlord of The Trafford Arms pub in Grove Road, Norwich. He is married to Glynis and has two daughters, a son and a stepson.

He said: 'Nick Clegg's stock has risen amazingly, while Vince Cable showed he knew what he was talking about when the banks were in trouble.

'People go on about Clegg lacking experience, but he won't get it unless he does it. It's interesting what he's been saying about the nuclear deterrent. We do need a new start and a new approach.

'He's been saying we should find a cheaper alternative to Trident and use the money on front line services and I can see the merit in that.

'The general public are fed up with them all and I think they'd be happy if every single one of them was replaced at this election.'

Mr Higgins added.


Steve Rees, a retired teacher, 64, who lives in Vauxhall Street in Norwich, is a volunteer community leader who works closely with city and county councillors.

He said he found the TV debated enthralling but added: 'I wouldn't say I heard anything that's going to change my views. I'm rather concerned it's becoming X-Factor politics and the issues are not really being discussed.

'It was obvious that Nick Clegg was always going to be the winner, but I think that will change once people get nearer to the election date. I still feel a high proportion of people will vote for the smaller parties.'


Jim Manka-Taylor, 30, lives in Livingstone Street, Norwich, with his wife and three children Beebee, Mirabelle and Percy. He said: 'I'll probably pay a bit more attention to tonight's debate. The last one was on in the background, but it proved to be more interesting than a lot of people thought.

'Nick Clegg certainly came across better than the other two. I think that will affect some of the floating voters, who might now be thinking of voting Lib Dem, but it could also lead to more tactical voting.'

Mr Manka-Taylor, who works in IT, added: 'I think the volcanic ash has overshadowed things in the past week, but I think politics will return to the fore now.

'The issues I'm particularly interested in seeing them explore now are the economy and education. I don't think immigration is a big issue in Norwich.'


Lone parent Julie Briggs, 36, lives in Hethersett with her four-year-old son Campbell. She was not impressed by the televised debate and hopes tonight's showdown will have more substance.

She said: 'I was very surprised by everyone's reaction to Nick Clegg. It was a 'performance' but there wasn't much meat on the bones of what he was saying.

'Gordon Brown was the only one coming up with concrete policies and in the week since then I don't think the Lib Dems have risen to the challenge of doing so.

'I hope tonight's debate will have a bit more substance, rather than being soundbites. I want someone to pin them all down on how they plan to sort out the economy and their plans for education and the NHS.'

Visit www.eveningnews24/elections for the latest news, views, facts, figures and features on the election campaign.