Leaders’ Debate Live Blog!

23:52pm Found myself sitting next to a chap who got invited into the Leaders Debate itself, and got to ask him how it happened. Apparently, one Friday night at 7pm, he got a knock on the door from ICM. He got asked if he’d heard of the debate, if he was interested in it, and who he might be voting for. He said, yes, yes and ‘don’t know, i was going to look at a betting website to see who’d keep the Tories out’, and he got to go to the debate.

So clearly ICM are knocking on random doors, probably based on Mosaic data or something similar, and asking a few set determining questions.

Sad to say though, apparently they over booked the audience by 25 seats in case of no shows though, and ended up drawing a random ballot for who actually got into the auditorium, which this guy failed. So, he was left in a dry bar in the Arnolfini watching it on a screen.

Politics, it’s so full of heartache.

21:56pm Was going to bring you a photo of the panel at the 5 Live debate, but my iPhone’s given up it seems. Whilst i apologise to it for the tough day it’s had and persuade it to come back to life, let’s catch up with some of the photos from this evening.

So, that riot thing then. There was a huge amount of protesting going on down by the Arnolfini, everyone but the Judean People’s Front, although they may have been there too to be fair. The police handled it well, keeping the right and the left apart shall we say. Impressive stuff, they even stayed jokey and friendly as it went along.

police and protestors

They weren’t messing about though. Lines of properly kitted up riot police around the place, here’s one coming back up to St Augustine’s Parade.

riot police in a line

The people looking for a fight were determined to find one though, and there was your intrepid reporter right in the middle of it. Never photographed a riot before, it’s surprisingly difficult as it all happens so fast. It was only a small one to be fair, a riotlet if you will. Still, no one was messing about. Here’s as good a shot as was got.

riot 1

It was all over soon enough though, and disintegrated into just random shouting, and the inevitable soundsystem.

Here’s something happier from this evening, Iain Dale and Nick Robinson bumping into each other. Anyone fancy a caption competition?

iain dale and nick robinson caption competition

21:47pm Well, that was jolly wasn’t it. Lots of people listening intently here at the Radio 5 Live debate being held just a few doors down from the debate itself, populated with a carefully selected sample of local folk. Not a huge amount of reaction during the debate itself, but a few laughs here and there, and a round of applause for Nick Clegg at the end.

More interesting though is what’s going on with the Twitter sentiment tracker for the debate we put up earlier today. A few minutes after the debate, the Sun/Yougov poll seems to have declared David Cameron the winner. According to the Twitter stream we have running though, quite the opposite was true, and outrage seems to be kicking off online already.

Fascinating watching real time sentiment being pulled together into one place like that, we should do it more.

Must dash though, the show’s about to start. Iain Dale’s at the front typing away into his Blackberry. Wonder how he’s going to call it…

19:37pm Right, this post is getting really long, so I’ll start again from the top, and rejig the entire order tomorrow.

So lots going on in the last couple of hours since being away from a computer, but here’s some context for you now. I’m at the Radio 5 Live Debate at the Watershed, thanks to the help of Dick Penny, the world’s nicest man. We’re going to be watching the debate here then carrying on with discussion afterwards.

Here’s the view before me right now, nice big screen to watch it on certainly!

5 live debate before start


So, here we are then, blogging from outside Bordeaux Quay in Bristol, over the river from the Arnolfini, where the second Leaders’ Debate will be taking place tonight.

The run up to an event like this is always pretty interesting, so we’re going to be blogging the news, gossip and going ons of the biggest political event to take place in Bristol since, well, sometime.

This post will be being updated all day, and we’ll be tweeting and filming things too, so follow us and join in!

11:32am First amusing thing of the day was watching the road diversions go up at the end of our road. Who knows if the fact it’s a major bus route in Bristol was considered, but we now have all the buses running past our office. Yay.


We get down to the harbourside and consider our plan…

we consider our plan

…there’s the focus of tonight’s events in the distance, the Arnolfini. Sky News flags up everywhere outside.

the arnolfini

Other journo types already starting their coverage on Pero’s Bridge, which runs across the water.

journos already starting

So we planned to go to Bordeaux Quay for the best view, but it seems real journalists had the same idea too!

beaten to it!

Still, here we’re sat, looking like media types, and it seems to be working. More news and gossip as we get it!

11:57 Just been for another wander around the area, loads going on…

Masses of satellite vans, all ranked neatly, reminds me of backstage at a festival. Even the approved jounos are sporting different coloured wristbands dependent on their levels of access. Wonder if there’ll be an after party going on tonight too…

Satellite vans

If you see any long shots going on tonight, here’s the cherry picker they’re using for it.

cherry picker

Pundits corner all set up, with the Arnolfini in the background. The woman hidden behind the camera was interviewing Labour’s Dennis McShane via satellite in Sheffield. At least that’s what she said she was doing, she may have just been having a go at herself.

pundits corner and arnolfini

It’s all a bit much for some people though, who need to take time out to relax. Fortunately, the Heras fencing all round the journalists appears to be great for helping with doing sit ups.

sit ups

12:31pm The Conservatives have arrived! Nick Clegg’s been over in the Arnolfini for a while apparently, and it seem David Cameron is on this bus, as press crews are being taken in one at a time for interviews.

Amusing quote of the day so far from an older couple walking by;

Him: “Ooh, I see them Conservatives can afford themselves two brand new buses then”
Her: “Yeah, and leaving the engine running like that isn’t very environmentally friendly is it.

If Bristol West changes colour by just two votes, this may well have been the moment of the constituency’s turning.

press pack and tory bus

13:01pm This just in: Gez is not so subltly loitering next to journalists and just overheard that Ed Miliband has decided NOT to come to Bristol today. His media appearences will now be covered by none other than Ed Balls. Make of that what you will.

In other news the entirety of Bordeaux Quay the plush vantage point opposite the Arnolifini and Sky News base camp will be locked down from 4pm. Not news to us seeing as we got booted out of there a little while ago – but may be to others.

13:18pm As just tweeted, looks like the PM himself just left the Arnolfini in a huge bullet proof looking car with lots of police escort. Would have made a great photo, which was inevitably why I was on the other side of the river when it happened, and only got this. Grr…

cars move off

14:09pm Phew, so I’m back in the office now, on this glorious hot day, with Michaela having taken over in the field.

It’s all a bit quiet over lunch apparently. Nick Robinson spotted having lunch with Douglas Alexander in Sky’s reserved bit at Bordeaux Quay, then Mr Alexander went and did an interview with Emily Maitliss about Facebook and Twitter and so on.

The media eating lunch and eating itself, though not as amusingly as earlier when one cameraman started filming the guy who was filming Emily Maitliss for Sky, as another journalist took a photo of him doing so. I was going to take a photo of the whole thing, but I feared the world would have disappeared into a wormhole of post modernity.

Oh, and there have been a couple of protest boats around too, despite signs up saying the whole harbour is on lock down without the permission of the Harbour Master. First there were these jokers, anti fox hunting protestors dressed in huge fox outfits, who tried to land on the landing stage and got chased off by serious looking men in suits…

anti fox hunting small

…as well as these serious men in a boat, who appeared from nowhere. Security really is tight.

police in boat

Then Michaela’s reported that another boat has appeared and hoisted a flag of St George with tanks and battleships on it. No idea what it’s about, and it’s not in a good position for a photo either.

A more sensible approach, less likely to result in getting shot, seems to be being taken by the Bristol Stop the War Coalition ironically enough, out leafletting in the sunshine.

bristol stop the war coalition

14:33pm News in from Michaela, David Cameron’s going in for his rehearsal in a few minutes.

14:35pm More security cordoning going up, before the place goes on lock down.

more security going up

14:44pm This just in from our motoring correspondent, David Cameron arrived in what looked like a Silver BMW for this one. Doubtless it’s run on recycled chip fat or something though.

14:47pm Just to show how close Delib Towers is to the debate venue tonight, here’s a speeded up video Corwin put together a couple of hours ago, of the walk from ours to there.

14:58pm Michaela’s got a top shot of the anti hunt protestors who have now disembarked and were waiting for David Cameron to come out of the rehearsal. Unfortunately for them he went the other way out. unfortunate for Michaela too, who missed a chance of a photo. Meh.

anti hunt protestor close

15.58pm Our favourite anti-hunting protesters got back in their boat and once again got chased back along the water by the burly policemen in their boat.

anti hunt protesters in boat being followed by police

anti hunt close up

We have also seen divers getting into the water around the Arnolfini for one last sweep, those guys have been spotted doing this a few days before but can’t be too careful eh!

Finally Gez spotted Emily Maitlis interviewing David Laws in the press section.

david laws interview

Also take a look at our Leaders Debate Twit-ometer!

16.36pm Well, well, well guess who turned up. Not to be out-done by the anti-hunting boat protest Fathers4Justice have apparently taken control of a Bristol Ferry tour boat are going up and down the water next to the Arnolfini. Captain America and one of the Incredibles have been identified. No sooner had they gone up and down a few times were they pursued by the police boat and the harbour master, obviously non too impressed.Fathers4Justice

Here we can see the Fathers4Justice boat being chased.

fathers close upYou can clearly see the protesters dressed up as superheroes, although their banner is not so clear.


After all the messing about in boats action our superhero friends try the old megaphone on dry land act. This picture shows the police looking on, no doubt not amused considering the press area with live broadcasts is only about 10 metres away.

fathers4justice in hot water

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth giving a few words amongst some vans in the press area. With the subject of todays debate it is no wonder he is around in Bristol for Labour.

Bob Ainsworth

Finally we can confirm we are to continue live blogging/tweeting from the site during the debate itself. One of us in with some official press and one of us hopefully down by the Big Screen in Millenium Square (although it appears there isn’t confirmation that it is being shown at the site).


Great shot of Charlie Wheelan (Lab), Tim Montgomerie (slightly obscured) (Con) and Lord Rennard (Lib Dem) having a chat with Emily Maitlis. Apparently this picture comes with an anecdote. An older lady came up before the interview and said, “Oh I know you” to Lord Rennard, to which he replied “yes, you probably do”. “You’re Eric Pickles!” I don’t think he was too impressed.

Charlie wheelan, tom montgomerie, Lord rennard

9 thoughts on “Leaders’ Debate Live Blog!

  1. Lovely day for all this Bally-hoo in Brissle isn’t it? Battled my way through the security cordon at lunchtime for a snoop around. Found the sight of heavily armed police on the streets a little disconcerting.

    Enjoying your off-beat event coverage so far Delib-ers.

  2. Very interesting seeing the city I grew up in getting so mcuh exposure in the media and on this blog! Soem good pics. I bet Lloyd’s et al are annoyed about thsi event though – presumably teh cordon will be in place through tonight so they will miss out on a nights takings (unless Sky are paying compensation or everyone goes in there for pre/post debate drinks!).

  3. Heh, that’s amazing. Definitely looks a good decision at the moment – what a great day they’ve picked for Bristol to get a huge dollop of national attention!

  4. Awesome coverage guys, my very own inside angle with a lovely Bristol twist. Some great pics but I’m waiting for the hardcore policy discussion to commence…perhaps over a beer in the pub Friday night?

  5. Would’ve thought the Endemol studios on the Bath road would have made a less disruptive location, particularly given that it ‘s got a fully functioning live to air studio setup…

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