It was clear from the outset that the seven party leaders had chosen very different methods of conduct during the heated ITV debate on Thursday evening.
David Cameron’s tactic was to inject rhetoric about “the plan” working into every available moment, without ever really explaining what “the plan” actually was. Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru focused her attention on the Welsh vote, Nick Clegg spent a lot of time apologising and Nigel Farage did his best impression of a shouty man in a pub, claiming the politicians around him were “all the same” and appearing to malfunction when anyone mentioned a number.
Ed Miliband’s move was far more theatrical: answer the audience question for a few minutes, pause for dramatic effect, then turn to camera and deliver a heart-felt plea to “the people at home”.
“If I was your Prime Minister…” he’d begin, ending with any number of promises about protecting the NHS, upping the minimum wage and introducing fair immigration control.
But the puppy-eyed stunt left the “people at home” divided – and some mildly disturbed:
The way that Ed Miliband keeps turning to the camera to address 'people at home' is a bit Miranda Hart #leadersdebateTami Hoffman (@tamisky_says) April 2, 2015
“@realmissfiona: Who has advised Ed Miliband to keep turning to camera saying people at home? Aaaargh!” It's creepyDan Wootton (@danwootton) April 2, 2015
Ed Miliband's tactic of speaking straight into the camera was a good idea. All he needs to do now is find it #leadersdebateIan Hyland (@HylandIan) April 2, 2015
ED STOP LOOKING AT US. You are weird. Look at people not a machine. Try and act off the spectrum #leadersdebateKatie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) April 2, 2015
Not that it seems to have affected his popularity. A Guardian poll taken after the debate suggested that Miliband had won the contest at 25 per cent. YouGov placed him second with 18 per cent to Cameron’s 29 per cent, while the ICM placed him second at 28 per cent to SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon at 48 per cent.
After his performance, Miliband also tweeted to the "people at home":
I am passionate about our vision for action on zero-hours, tuition fees and the NHS. David Cameron had nothing to say tonight.Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) April 2, 2015
David Cameron chose the format but he was the invisible man in this debate. He couldn't defend his record on the NHS and extreme cuts.Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) April 2, 2015