Thursday, 1 June 2017

Broken Politics


So Mrs May would rather be on the campaign trail than participating in a TV debate. While she can easily ignore or evade voters' questions in a carefully staged and heavily scripted visit to a factory or a bakery, it's a bit more difficult on a national TV debate. Then there is that little matter of the uncosted manifesto, not to mention answering accusations of Tory smear tactics against Corbyn.


There is an impressive body of data to suggest TV debates help to inform, educate and encourage the electorate to participate more in democracy - greater numbers watch the gladatorial election debates than any other form of campaigning. They can even get the electorate to more fully inspect manifestos, rather than relying on slanted propaganda from a partizan press - whether the Daily Telegraph (or Mail) or the Guardian. They also equalise party access to the mass media, giving parties with a smaller election budget a better chance to get their message across.

Increasingly, in Western democracies, campaigns have become dominated by the trustworthiness of the political leaders, who are candidates for the highest office in the land. The Leaders' TV Debate is basically a job interview with the board of directors. The Americans have been doing Presidential debates since the 60s and the Swedes since the 50s.

If Theresa May saw the debate as a distraction from the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, then why the hell call an election 11 days before they're due to start, unless it was pure, but misplaced opportunism. Nothing essentially wrong with opportunism, but the fact she said one thing and did another makes one doubt her every utterance. If I hear the words 'strong and stable' once more, I'll throw up. A reduction to a 5 (or 3, if today's stats are to be believed) point lead from the massive one at the start of the campaign is not strong, nor are several policy U turns during the campaign an indication of either strength or stability, nor indeed principle.

No-one seemed to mention the absence of Nicola Sturgeon, who has always struck me as quite strong and fearless. It'll be an interesting election.

The winner? I'd say Caroline Lucas gave the best, most sincere performance on the night. Corbyn had the best policies and is also cam across as sincere.

The loser? Either Rudd or Nuttall. Hard to choose between them - Rudd was trying hard to defend the indefensible and I just can't take Nuttall seriously as a political force, or indeed a human being.

We watched Jimmy McGovern's 'Broken' last night. Utterly believable and a salient reminder to all about how hard it can be to live on the breadline.


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