Blue Air: The Leaders Debates

Posted: May 13, 2010 by Ferg in Ferg's Blue Air
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Right, time to put 3 years of a History degree to good use and analyse the Leaders Debates. I watched all of them in the lead up to the election.

I now want to know why I bothered.

I really, genuinely do. The idea of the debates came from a Sky News push based on the influence the leaders debates have in America. Which in itself is an odd thing to do: America switched from a neo-conservative, neo-religious, inverse IQ administration to the great new hope in Obama. There was no way he was going to lose the election, but Sky News put a lot of emphasis on the sway it has.

Erm, hang on a minute. Isn’t Sky News part of NewsCorp, which also owns The Sun and The Times? Two very widely read newspapers who, in the lead up to the election, pledged their allegiance to the Conservative party? Lets also consider the parallels: Cameron’s a good orator, Obama’s a good orator. McCain spent a lot of time in a warzone, Brown just looks like he did. Realistically, so far, this was all very predictable.

But then no-one saw Nick Clegg coming. Here was a man who is a confident speaker not just in English, but also in French and Dutch. He’s a capable politician who has brought some respect back to the Liberal Democrats after having a leader called ‘Ming’ was the only thing which got them noticed before. In the lead up to the debates, no-one played their cards better than Clegg: he pushed his policies on the abolition of tuition fees to win the student vote; played on electoral reform to swing the outraged Daily Mail reader vote; pledged to raise the minimum wage threshold to win the un and underemployed vote; and, in a time where the rich are getting richer, he pledged to bend those guys over and tax their mansions to the hilt.

Then, in the debates, he came off very well as a new hope: the Guardian even did a cover in their magazine which compared him to Obama. He was the ‘third way,’ and even when the second debate saw Brown and Cameron actually work together to rally against him, he still came off as moderate, reasonable and even likeable. A likeable politician??! In Britain??!

…too good to be true. Cameron came off best in the last debate, and so that declared him the winner. the ‘Cleggmania’ that came about from the first debate was a long, distant memory of a fortnight ago. The initial interest faded and died, the analysis that went into the first debate simply turned into “Cameron won” in the third debate. And in spite of a hung parliament, the Conservatives won more seats, the Lib Dems did WORSE than before, and all the pledges and promises turned into, as Dermot O’Leary so aptly put it, “same shit, different suit.”

Because the Conservatives haven’t changed. Bungling idiots with good educations get good jobs (Osborne, Chancellor). Prejudiced attitudes prevail (Theresa May is the new equalities minister, despite her support for Section 28, opposition to gay adoption and equal ages of consent for straight and gay people). Good men from the Lib Dems get pushed into crappy, second string offices (Cable in Business, Skills and Innovation office and not the Chancellory, Huhne as Energy and Climate secretary, not even Environments Minister).

So tell me. Why did we have the debates if it existed purely to confirm what we already knew? That Brown can’t speak in public (but he can guide us out of a whirlpool of financial conjecture); that Cameron’s cool and calm unless you ask him something he’s not prepared for; and Clegg was the best candidate, but no-one believes in the Lib Dems.

So. Why?

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