Sunday nights used to be great on TV: Poldark or some other high-quality drama to gently close the weekend.
Now, it’s either some complicated science fiction adaptation or – here we go again – another bloody general election debate.
The line up for this one, staged by ITV in Salford, included two 2019 debutants: UKIP’s – sorry, the Brexit Party’s – Nigel Farage and, for Labour, Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon.
Seasoned Westminster watchers found the choice of Burgon somewhat, um, courageous, shall we say?
But remember Labour’s switch last week to thrust forward frontbenchers with regional accents who are not wedded to staying in the EU.
This, of course, is aimed at shoring up the Red Wall the party fears will fold to the Brexit-backing Tories.
There were surely inaudible groans when host Julie Etchingham told us this latest showdown would last two hours.
But Julie that’s, like, longer than a football match. Even factoring in VAR.
Tory representative Rishi Sunak, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, set the tone in his opening statement, telling viewers: “You, me, everyone is fed up. We just want to move on.”
I agree but steady on, mate, we’re only four minutes in.
Turns out he was on about Brexit. Again.
“Let’s Get This Debate Done,” he didn’t actually say.
Farage branded Boris Johnson’s deal a “half in, half out fudge”.
This after embattled Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said the Prime Minister couldn’t be bothered to come because “he’s leaving it to his cheerleader Nigel Farage – and if they win, we lose”.
That she was using this attack line so early suggested two things: 1) she finally realises her campaign really is going badly as she was warned it might; and 2) she didn’t have much faith in viewers lasting the course to 9pm.
Green co-leader Sian Berry was earnest, plausible and likeable – and you wonder if one day voters will come to regret not listening earlier and more closely to her party’s message on the environment.
Farage, who thrives on primetime exposure, power without responsibility and pumping out populist rhetoric, was, predictably, aiming to secure his core vote rather than widen his appeal.
In that, he will surely have succeeded.
And when he launched a (surely deliberate) defence of his pal Donald Trump over his “pussy-grabbing” comments it was classic Farage playing to a populist base.
“It was crass and crude and wrong and men say dreadful things sometimes”, said Farage.
He added that men were likely to say such things after “a night out with a drink” – ignoring the fact Trump is teetotal.
And he may have stripped away some Tory votes in Leave-supporting areas the Conservatives must win for a Commons majority.
Oh, and he had by far the best tie.
Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price was less good than at Friday’s debate in Cardiff, now the novelty value has worn off.
Wide-eyed and raging, he was certainly not trying to win over would-be voters with calm authority, displaying instead flaming passion.
Passion for Remain.
When his party is only standing candidates in a nation that voted to Leave.
And he turned the air blue when he said “pussy” on air an hour before the watershed, in relation to Trump’s infamous comments grabbing women.
Turning to Farage, he fumed: “It can never be acceptable for a man to talk about grabbing a woman’s pussy and if you think it is you should be ashamed of yourself.”
Price then turned his fire on the absent Tory leader, saying: “We have a Prime Minister who referred to gay men like myself as bum boys in tank tops.”
Sturgeon said lots of things about Scotland, both eyes focused on consolidating her core pro-Leave-when-it-comes-to-the-UK, pro-Remain-when-it-comes-to-the-EU vote, which definitely isn’t a contradiction at all. No siree.
But the country’s off-licences which provided the fuel to survive this long, long 120 minutes must have done all right.
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Who won the ITV general election debate? Our snap verdict on the seven-way clash have 931 words, post on www.mirror.co.uk at December 1, 2019. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.