The First Election Debate

The First Election Debate

Spot the difference?

Spot the difference?

First published in Eddie Watson St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by

If the Chancellor’s debate was nothing more than a dull televised version of men discussing their economic genius at a gentleman’s club sipping tea and eating scones whilst patting each other on the back and being afraid to truly rip into their opposition then the first election debate between the wannabe PMs was slightly less so...slightly. At the start all three men looked as nervous as schoolboys who had to explain why they shouldn’t be given detention for screwing up the economy and irresponsible government on the playground…although I may have mixed the metaphor up with what actually happened there. Trying to ignore how much the format looked like a programme that used to be on channel 5 called “100 per cent” (if you don’t remember it look it up) the debate began at a stalemate pretty much with no debating going on whatsoever.

However, thanks to Gordon Brown’s new team of ‘Have I Got News For You’ style writers the first conflicts started to begin around 15 minutes in. Brown made clear he was against Cameron, saying such lines as “it’s not question time, it’s answer time” which I liked and my personal favourite “you can’t airbrush your policies like you airbrush your posters”, classic. It was quite dissapointing actually that the debate wasn’t wholly filled with personal insults, a rap battle of some sort would have been a much more clear cut way of debating, and think of the youth vote… There was of course the usual promises, one which struck me as quite unusual though was the desire for more police on the streets, I started to think the party leaders were being cruel and had an obsession with making them all homeless, but perhaps I misunderstood that part. Also one of the audience members started a question on the Iraq war with “soldiers seem to be dying…” which to me sounds fairly obvious, otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a war. There was a lot of name dropping as well. Some sort of desire to seem personal and in-touch-with-the-people blah blah blah. Cameron mentioned a 40 year old Black man from Plymouth during a discussion on immigration, Clegg kept mentioning Sheffield (his constituency in case he didn’t specify that enough) and Brown also mentioned touring the country, which makes them sound like they just want to be rock stars. It was funny to see as well that the leaders made notes, appearingly on the name of the person who had asked each question and referred to them by name constantly. What I would have loved was if they cocked it up and got the names muddled, killing their media personas (as if Brown had one anyway) and forcing them to apologise to the commoner who had dared ask men of such importance a question…unfortunately that didn’t happen.

If you missed it and want to see it, I’d recommend the 45 minutes from 15 minutes in to an hour, the rest is quite boring. Despite Alastair Stewart planning to move them on if they became boring, which he did by saying “we’ve already covered this” (it was said A LOT), the majority of the debate was quite interesting but quite tame in comparison to what I had expected. Could one immature insult have not appeared in their somewhere? Could you imagine how much respect Gordon Brown would get if he had called Cameron a posh twit? Well I didn’t expect that, but in comparison to in Parliamentary debates it was relatively low key squabbling. Also if you didn’t watch it then you must be wondering why so many people like Nick Clegg all of a sudden. Well he didn’t have much to lose with the Lib Dems not being the biggest of threats, their stance against the Iraq war and also the fact they haven’t had a majority in government whilst all the expenses scandals have gone on. If you’re unsure of who to vote for, check out their policies rather than just their character in the debates. Despite that, I’m sure a lot of people will vote X-Factor style based on what they see on the screen, which I suppose is fair in a democracy, after all politicians do want more people to vote. So stop moaning politicians that it’s become too ‘popularised’, if it gets more to the ballot it’s a good thing. The first televised debate has really stirred things up, we’ll have to see what the rest do, if anything, to voting patterns on election day. Hopefully the next one will include at least one rap battle…we can only hope.

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