Sunday, 25 April 2010

Second debate – comment

I couldn't devote as much attention to this one because I was doing ICT work at the same time (oh joy), but I've done my best to write something coherent about it. I didn't think there was any clear winner - there was no stand-out performance with a clear victor on either presentation or policies. Both Brown and Cameron did better in terms of presentation, but David seems to have taken staring down the lens to the extreme - it was a bit disturbing. I was also shocked to find myself agreeing with Gordon Brown a few times.

Clegg wasn't able to top last week's performance, and is now beginning to feel the sting of Cameron on Europe, and Brown and Cameron both worked together to make him look like a wacky hippy with regard to Trident.

Overall, the debate just didn't have that same exciting and tense air that the first one did. Cameron was still noticeably uncomfortable and nervous, but there just wasn't the same feeling of something new and exciting happening. There were no big flops or star performances - just three men rambling to each other and starting disconcertingly at me.

If possible, the cheesy pre-scripted lines got even more grimace-inducing this week, with the winning contender for the cheesiest line award going to Brown for "They're like my two young boys squabbling at bathtime." I presume this was also picked to subtly remind us that he's a Dad who can relate to ordinary families.

The ties:

I was shocked - shocked - to see David Cameron donning a purple tie and not a blue one, and I demand to know why! Was this to remind us of his wealth - is he royalty when compared the other two? Anyway, onto issues of more substance. I've picked out particular items brought up during the debate to comment upon.

The European Union

For me, Gordon Brown came off the worse in this topic. He was patronising and had an air of "I know better than you" about him with his dismissal of a referendum, and instead insisted that he knows best, and what's best is apparently being in the EU without a chance to vote on it. He didn't seem to explain his claim of Europe helping us to make more jobs either, and for me this just reminded me of the damaging EU legislation on our economy, and that we can't say "No" to migrants from within the EU. So much for that populist "British jobs for British workers" crap he peddled a little while ago, when he made an attempt at being populist.

I liked Cameron's euroscepticism, as he pledges to prevent more power going to the EU without referendums, and his desire to repatriate some of the powers already given away to the vast, unaccountable semi-dictatorship. However, telling the British public that we "Don't want a referendum" on the EU was almost as condescending as Gordo. Clegg's love of  the EU was disconcerting, but I was surprised to see Cameron did not highlight the party's support for the dreaded Euro. Few people want to join the currency, so highlighting the Lib Dems' support for it could have helped to end Cleggmania. However, the referendum promise of the Lib Dems is welcome, and only opposed by those who arrogantly declare that the EU is great and we should bow down in servitude to it, because we're far too stupid to make a decision.

Nuclear weapons:

Whilst I would generally agree with the Lib Dems that we ought not to be cutting services whilst pouring money into massive new nuclear weapon systems, I felt quite convinced by the argument of Brown that we cannot predict the future, and if do not set about keeping our weapons viable, it will be too late if we need to act. Having now admitted to agreeing with Gordon, I need to go and have a shower - please wait a few minutes.


The award for most pointless question of the night goes to the woman who asked something along the lines of "What have you done personally to combat climate change?" She took time out of her busy schedule of weaving hemp together to make jumpers; dancing around wind turbines with her druid friends; and riding her bike made of recycled cardboard, to come along and ask a question that no-one except her gave a toss about. It was barely even political, and was rightly politicised by the politicians as they explained their party's environmental polices instead of trying to cosy up to Isabel the Independent-reading Instigator of Idiotic Inquiries . The only thing useful that came out of this question was me being reminded of Cameron on his bike being followed by a car carrying his briefcase - I'm surprised the other two didn't try to make capital out of that. Perhaps even they couldn't be bothered with such a stupid question.


Another rather pointless question raised, which seemed to be more an opportunity of the chap to put forward his opinion than get an answer. However, I did think, unlike Isabel, he raised some interesting issues. All candidates were in agreement that the Pope is welcome to visit, but took the opportunity to say that the Church needs to be more transparent, and rethink its stance on such issues as contraception, abortion, and stem cell research. Very diplomatic. He couldn't really have expected anything different from them - would they really go into a fit of moral outrage and forbid His Coverupliness from visiting? That would have been fun to watch.


Cameron obviously came across as the toughest on this with his proposal for a cap; Clegg's proposition of targeted immigration makes sense, but I'm still not convinced it will work; and Brown is difficult to take seriously considering they've only just recently started a points-based system after having 13 years to do it. Again, I don't think Cameron went hard enough against Brown, who always falls aback on this tosh about "Net migration having fallen". When he does that, he always says that the balance between people leaving Britain and people coming to Britain is about the same, but neglects to mention that the people leaving are going to numerous other countries, whilst the incoming figure only counts the number coming to this little island of ours. And apparently he's even lying about that, and here, too.

Again, I'll turn to my beloved Telegraph:
A quite astonishing statistic has just been published by the Home Office. Last year, more than 200,000 foreign nationals were granted UK citizenship. In 1997, the year Labour took office, the number given a British passport was 37,000.

For many years before Labour took office, the number of new citizens averaged about between 40,000 and 50,000 – mainly people joining family members already settled here. Since 1997, citizenship has been granted to around 1.5m foreign nationals and a further 1.5m have emigrated here with the hope of staying. About half of the new citizens were people who qualified through being resident in the country for five years or more and 20 per cent became British through marriage. The remainder were mainly dependant children.

Labour's immigration failure exposed by official figures, Philip Johnston, 25/02/10.

There have been accusations of bias levelled against Sky, particularly due to Bolton's sudden mention of the stories run about Clegg's alleged donation fiddling. I do think there may have been a little bit of bias, but many of the comments about it around the Interwebs smack of disgruntled Lib Dem supporters shouting about a conspiracy. I'm expecting some subtle pro-Brown bias from the BBC during their debate.

I look forward to the next debate - since it's the last one, it will leave the most lasting impact upon voters, and I'm expecting that Clegg will unfortunately probably come out on top due to being young and able to do his 'I'm ordinary bloke' thing. There have been suggestions that Cameron will turn the format on its head and ignore the rules by inviting an open and free discussion between the candidates and the audience. This could either win it for him because he performs very well when interacting, or lose it for him if he's knocked back back the host. If it's Dimbleby, that's unlikely, since he'll be confused by the bright lights and will be too busy demanding a cup of hot cocoa to know what's going on.
Duke of Westminster

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