Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The First Live Debate

The Leaders Debate: ITV

The stage has been set and the weeks of anticipation are up. Tonight we see the first ever UK leaders debate.
Will it prove to be a major success that opens the lid on politics and reveals who our party leaders actually are or will it be a total failure?
It's time to see whether this tried and tested US norm can work in a UK setting!

Brown vs Cameron vs Clegg... Head to head

Domestic affairs

So then, those who watched sat and endured 90 minutes of a suped up 'Question Time' (or as the ever comedic Brown called it, 'Answer Time').
How did it go? Well firstly, the format has to be addressed. Surely Gordon Brown should have taken centre stage as he is meant to be the one in power. Understandably, those arranging the positions were probably using a degree of foresight by putting David Cameron in the middle or were they putting him in a corner?

The result of the evening was rather predictable. Brown and Cameron were lured into fighting each other in their little corner allowing Nick Clegg to appear the more attractive candidate. Surely anyone who has an inkling of political know-how could see the obviousness of the situation, even if it wasn't purposeful it was clearly evident that Nick Clegg was destined to seem the better man, a token victory.
Although yes, he was confident, he did argue his case and he did engage with the actual questions moreso, everything he said was purely theoretical. His party's brand of liberalism is untested and almost unknown in a British political arena, the party can say pretty much what they like as they have nothing to lose.
As a performer, Clegg was clear, straightforward and very collected and with his talk of 'decent, open politics', it is a no-brainer as to why he came across (to the panels) as the better man.

David Cameron spent much of the evening being stared and glowered at by Brown but on the whole performed very well, he acted naturally, he spoke how we would if at PMQs, a constituency or one of his frequent podcasts; with confidence, understanding and vigour.
His rhetoric that 'Britain can do better' was echoed in almost every answer he gave and rather interestingly he honestly admitted that the Labour party 'haven't always been wrong'.
Body specialist analysts today are claiming that he was staring out into the audience too imperially and unlike his yellow counterpart wasn't staring 'down the barrel' and at the home audience. Cameron was being himself once more in this instance, he was looking at the people around him, the people that were asking of him and not necessarily at those who were sat down at the other end of a TV screen.

Brown, like Cameron was himself last night and in no way is that a good thing. He gave us all a history lesson laced with hefty dollops of policy and what he had done... Gordon we don't need you to tell us what you've done. We can see the results for ourselves!
Another typical Brownism that has come into fruition recently are his attempts to be funny or involve some kind of humour. Tell me, what relevance to a question on burglaries and crime reduction does a poster of David Cameron or mentions of Lord Ashcroft actually bear?!
He's tried it so many times but the only one who was actually laughing was Gordon himself.
I did like how shocked and sickened Brown said he was over the expenses scandal, especially after he paid for a maid service using taxpayer money; she must've left a stain.

The moment of the evening for me came in the form of Joel Weiner's dramatic return to the fray of politics... Evidence that the audience was to a degree hand-picked thanks to the inclusion of the young Jewish political celebrity who was upset at competition in schools... My heart truly bleeds.

Having left school myself only last year, I know what it is like to be in this apparent minefield of exams and pressures... The real fear at schools should be the lack of power given to teachers and as Mr.Cameron pointed out, the weakness of headteachers who are being held to ransom by 'Appeals panels'. How the teachers have now become the children in the classroom!
I have been in classes of 2 pupils and classes of 32 pupils and now at University over 200 students all crammed into one room... Mr Clegg's 20 pupil infant school school and 16 pupil secondary school proposals will do little; if a child wants to learn it will go to school, do the extra reading and strive to be the best (Sorry Joel, competition is unavoidable), those who don't want to learn won't learn. If they cause disruption to a class they should be isolated, that way they've got no audience and if they're still not working it's a waste of the taxpayers money to keep them in school, especially at KS3 level.

I sat for the full 90 minutes last night frantically tapping away on my laptop making pages and pages worth of notes on what was said and how I read it. To me, a piece of revision which may come in handy but also a good place to draw evidence for this piece from.
I could go into detail on every single question however I'll just highlight what I found to be the most prominent points.

Gordon Brown
  • Continually mentioned how he would make things different, when told his party had 13 years to do so and hadn't he froze.
  • Thought that Clegg was on his side. Was rather abruptly shot down.
  • Found it relevant to mention the 'X-Factor' , 'Britain's Got Talent' and various media outlets in what was meant to be a serious political debate.
  • Attacked the Conservatives whenever possible but laid off the Liberal Democrats.
  • Is already putting his novelty desk lamps into boxes.
Nick Clegg
  • Used his allotted time well, answered clearly and made a good impression.
  • Continually played on 'Old Party' system; Table football politics... Red vs Blue.
  • Wanted a consensus on health care and asked other leaders to set aside differences on the issue.
  • Tackled Cameron on spending cuts.
  • Unable to justify £17bn spending gap in manifesto and on give-aways of £700 for taxpayer.
David Cameron
  • Alerted viewers to Brown's campaign of 'Fearing the Conservatives', offering the public a government which works on hope and not fear.
  • Unable to give clear figures when pressed by Brown. Will need to be more open in future debates or could face problems.
  • Very honest detailing on his values; will support those who work hard, are ill or in need.
  • Questioned useless bureaucracy and continually referred to cutting waste which Brown could not justify.
  • Looked like a leader, looked like a man who can take the country where it needs to be.
So there you have it, my view of how the events unfolded. You may agree, you may not but realistically there is not much that can be said until the 2nd and 3rd legs of these debates kick off.
The popular polls put it: Clegg 1 - Cameron - 0 - Brown - 0... We'll all have to see how this translates into voters in the upcoming weeks.

What will be required next time?

I think it's fair to say that the next debate on SkyNews will be interesting indeed, what will the leaders take forward, what will be different and what will stay the same. If Clegg can pull off another decent performance he will gain some credible support however Cameron will be smarting from what has appeared to be a defeat and of course Gordon will be there too keep an eye on things ;).

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