I agree with Nick

I watched the first ever UK General Election Leader’s debate on TV last night.

I was struck by a number of things.

The first was that it was actually quite engaging.  There was always a fear that the huge list of rules and guideline that the Parties had come up with to minimise the possibility of exposing their man to a damaging attack would kill off any chance of a real discussion.  That didn’t happen.

Media friendly David Cameron didn’t do well.  That was a big surprise, especially as of the three he had the most to lose.

Nick Clegg did really well.

Gordon Brown didn’t suck.

Of course there are many arguments to be had about style v substance but the big winner was Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.  They were given equal billing and boy did they grasp it.

Which leaves us in an interesting place.  Has the debate changed the game?  Are the Lib Dems now a real possibility?  Or at least not just the other lot that will never win…

The dismissal of small parties has always puzzled me.  Tactical voting is odd.  It has often been said that if all the people who would want to vote LibDem but don’t see the point because they won’t get in actually voted for them then they would indeed be challengers.

In Scotland the SNP form the government.  That happened because people chose not to vote for the party they have always voted for.  And because we have a much fairer voting system.  We have a hung parliament… and it works.

For me the elephant in the room last night wasn’t the economy, it was devolution.  Most of the debate didn’t apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who all have devolved responsibility for health, education and policing.

When are the Westminster parties going to get a real grip on the fact that England doesn’t have the same rights as the rest of the UK and that this should make a difference to how we govern the UK as a whole?

The next few weeks will be very interesting…

1 thought on “I agree with Nick”

  1. I usually enjoy the leaders debates here in Canada (there’s always 2 – one in English, one in French). During our last election in 2008 there was a bit of controversy, because there was debate over whether Elizabeth May, the leader of the Canadian Green Party, should be included or not. There was threat of boycott from two of the other leaders, then another leader saying he had no problems with the Green’s being there, but wouldn’t turn up if the others didn’t. It was fun even before the debates had started. In the end she was allowed to take part and actually was the most impressive of the leaders, in my opinion. The Green Party took 7% of the vote, but ended up with no seats. The annoying thing is that the Bloc Quebecois took just under 10% of the vote and ended with 49 seats. The system needs to be reformed.

    I really dislike tactical voting. If there was proportional representation then this would deal with the falsehood that is tactical voting. The press can easily sway people’s minds to vote tactically. I think that if you support a certain party then you should vote for them regardless.

    The best thing about the debates, which you alluded to, is that it makes the leaders think on their feet. There’s no prepared statements or speeches. I think that politicians often rely too heavily on their speechwriters, advisers and so on.

    Although it’s 16 years since I left the UK, I still keep an eye on the political stuff that goes on. So, I look forward to more of your commentary as the election draws nearer.

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