Strategy. Pressure. Conviction. Personality. Communication.

The last blog I did was about the rise of the popular Irish Mixed Martial Artist Conor McGregor, and by some quirk of fate it appears that a lot of the themes from the last blog are going to bleed into this one (excuse the pun).

So as the dust settles following an evening of an entirely different form of pugilism, today we are going to examine how our two primary political competitors faired. Let's introduce them.

In the Blue Corner, fighting out of Number 10 Downing Street. The undisputed Champion of the Commons, Prime Minister David "Call Me Dave" Cameron. 

And in the Red Corner, fighting out of Primrose Hill, North London. The Challenger. "Red Ed" Miliband.

The difficulty here is that this is where the unarmed combat analogy finishes, and the dull truth of the matter surfaces. The papers this morning will distribute their own opinions on who came out on top last night. Will those opinions actually be based upon the words that were said, or the manner in which they were delivered? Will they be based upon how each man reacted under pressure? Will they based upon how effectively each competitor managed to implement their strategy?

In some cases, yes. But in most cases, no.

Call me a cynic, but the predetermined agenda of many of our broadsheets has now become so ingrained in our social consciousness that we don't even question it anymore. In the words of Bruce Hornsby "That's just the way it is".

But YOU can. Yes, YOU!

You who might be reading this on the train on your way home. You who have taken Friday off and are now looking forward to a weekend away. You can make up your own mind based on the facts, and on what you saw with your own eyes and heard with your own ears.

So what did we see and hear last night? Well to start with what we saw was not a true contest. Why? Because our current Prime Minister has a strategy and that strategy is to remain the current Prime Minister.  Instead we saw each of them answer questions from both presenters – Jeremy Paxman and Kay Burley – then questions from the audience.

David Cameron clearly sees no benefit in going head-to-head with Ed Miliband, and where some might say this is a shrewd tactic, others see it as cowardly. And this is interesting because in the run-up to last night's "debates", Ed Miliband has been accused of not having the personality to lead our country - but what does that actually mean?

John Cleese once said something in the run up to Barack Obama's election which has stuck with me. He said, and forgive me if I paraphrase slightly, that many people voted for George Bush because they could relate to him. He was one of their own and was someone they could envisage going for a beer with.

Mr. Cleese then went on to say "I don't want the man (or woman) who leads my country to be someone I can go and have a beer with. I want them to be above that, because the people I have a beer with shouldn't be entrusted with a packet of nuts, let alone the running of a country".

My point here is that whilst personality is important, it depends on what you mean by “personality”. Many have accused Miliband of appearing to be a bit weak, a bit out of touch, and a bit bland. But what is interesting is that Cameron's strategic decision to not debate him has now given him a great deal of confidence and gumption - and that HAS resonated with the public.

That's what many people saw last night. Cameron was positively mauled by Jeremy Paxman on a number of topics, but when it was Ed's turn we genuinely saw some of the fire in him emerge, and in the heat of the moment he managed to forge some credibility with voters who up until then didn't know who to vote for, nor cared.

So what is my point? My point is that all of the aforementioned themes of effective communication are important - crucial even when it comes to making people care about something.

Strategy is great, but it should be built upon facts, not assumptions. David Cameron just may have made the very unwise assumption that Ed Miliband doesn't really pose much of a threat. Do you think he still believes that this morning? Do you think there is even the smallest possibility that he may now be regretting not signing up for more debates and giving himself a chance to combat Ed's spike in popularity?

Sometimes when your back is up against the wall, pressure isn't actually a bad thing. Pressure can surface the conviction which up until now people may have believed you lacked. Pressure is what gives you the opportunity to show those sides of your personality which are going to make people sit up and take notice.

To quote Mr. McGregor once again, "Pressure makes diamonds, my friend".

 

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