Thursday, 15 April 2010

Election Exclusive - Party Leaders Mass-Debate

Tension began to mount as the three remaining
contestants entered the big money round

Now I’m not usually one for up-to-the-minute reactionary blogging. I prefer to ruminate on a subject for a while until the volcanic dust has settled, and hopefully put some comments across that aren't simply a regurgitation of everything else doing the rounds. At least that’s the intention. Tonight, however, I feel I must say a little something concerning what will undoubtedly be the most blogged political phenomenon this country has ever seen. I’m already too late however, as the News at Ten are already giving me poll results at, what is it, 10.15..

I won’t delve too deeply into nitty-gritty of policy, but a few thoughts became clear as tonight’s election debate gathered steam. Firstly, my goodness! I understand that these debates were only announced relatively recently, but you’d think it was long enough for ITV to construct a set befitting the unprecedented occasion. It looked a little like the studio from the 1986 run of Blockbusters, and the wishy-washy backdrop screen behind the leaders’ heads was reminiscent of a bible belt Evangelical church. The construction work on their faces wasn’t much better. Cameron looked like he was appearing at a drag club. I’m just glad I wasn’t watching on HD.

I’m a little disappointed that the format deviated from the tried and tested Question Time system of the clapo-meter; half the fun is the applause, or more specifically the few that clap fervently at a seemingly well made point only to undergo an ideological 180 once they realise that no one else thought so. Interestingly, the questioners were even given a brief biog, like Sue from Oldham with a pub. Who’d have thought voters had lives and jobs!

As ITV is so promptly informing me, Clegg came out on top. He was always going to, right? Nothing to lose. To be fair to him and the Lib Dems, he is by far the youngest and most sober leader they have had for a while. Unfortunately, this sort of programme attracts the glory viewer; you know the one, claims he loves Rugby but only ever watches the Six Nations, during which he’s an expert. I doubt he’ll be tuning in to BBC Parliament any time soon. Lib Dem policies do make a lot of sense, but they require such an upheaval of the system that it’s unfeasible at best. Clegg, for me, was just a tad too obsequious towards the audience, particularly those who posed the questions. It all became a bit much during his closing speech however, when he name-dropped every one of the questioners and the issues they raised. He’s like the one in a group job interview who writes everyone’s name down as they introduce themselves and repeats them smugly in conversation to their potential boss, whilst everyone else doesn’t really give a shit.

Cameron looked uncharacteristically shifty to start with; this stuff is normally his bread and butter. I’m pretty sure that was due to the extra leg he and Brown had acquired in Clegg, which unsettled his practised role of slagging off the Prime Minister solo during PMQs.

Brown was Brown, simple as that. Heavy on fact, light on personality. But he played to it the best he could, and at least he hasn’t made the egregious mistake of trying to develop a personality all of a sudden. He did attempt one joke through gritted teeth, but that was simply a vehicle for an Ashcroft jibe, and was squeezed in between his ingratiating attempts at aligning himself with Clegg.

So, one down, two to go. One debate doesn’t make an election as they say (they do), and neither will three. Polls for this, that and the other on the back of ninety minutes of television are not persuasive indicators of a general election result, and with the current voting system, will probably do little to swing favour in the majority of constituencies that remain red or blue. It’s not like we have a dearth of election-based broadcasting right now either. The radio 4 schedule is almost entirely devoted to it at present, so much so that election hype has even permeated the sacred space that is Woman’s Hour. Having said that, I’ve probably undermined myself spectacularly by writing a reactionary blog piece on election politics. It’s worth getting it in now, however. After May 6th, we’ll never want to talk about it again..

On a lighter note following tonight’s frolics, I was disturbed to hear that the Royal Navy have lowered its recruitment age so drastically, after Cameron claimed to have met a 40 year old man who had served in the service for 30 years. The inadvertent chortle of the night however, came from the apparently budding doctor Clegg whose dodgy phraseology produced this gem;

‘I was at a Paediatric hospital last week, treating babies’.

His talents do not stop with public speaking, it seems.

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