A full evening of politics on the box tonight. If nothing else this self imposed engagement with the process is bringing home to me how hard it must be for the participants. I admire at the very least their energy and stamina.
The evening began with a passing glimpse of Jo Brand reprising her best “Thatcher Out” Eighties politics with a broadcast on behalf of Labour. I didn’t realise but apparently if we don’t vote Labour then the, sorry, our NHS will not exist in 3 years.
The next programme was an ITV special where some vacuous TV presenter spends time with a political leader getting to know the real person. Tonight it was Ed Miliband. Miliband showing how he is just like the rest of us, cooking scrambled eggs whilst ignoring a mithering kid. The major difference was that we don’t have a camera crew in either of our kitchens and there is no need to second guess the questions. But all this took place in a North London house that I would bet is going to qualify for his own Mansion Tax. Then we had Ed playing pool ( “I have to have that double shot into the middle pocket on the programme” ), Ed drinking a pint of lager , Ed travelling second class on the railway , Ed not being allowed to eat his own scrambled eggs……… I am only going to watch another one of these profilesif I have run out of sleeping tablets.
Then we came to a two hour “Challengers Election Debate” later disowned by Dimbleby as ” The Debate that was never called the Challengers debate”
Everyone wondered was it a good idea for Cameron and his puppy to stay away. Miliband ( Labour ), Natalie Bennett for the Greens, Nigel Farage ( UKIP ) and Mss Wood and Sturgeon ( Plaid Cymru and SNP respectively ) all participated. There were the obligatory one minute opening and closing statements, the expected trashing of Cameron for not being there and the perhaps surprising omission of anyone mentioning Nick Clegg. There were some good shouting matches and dog fights in between. Farage walking a dangerous line in dissing the live audience. You have to admire his courage. In my view, the live audience was definitely too partisan. There was no applause for Farage and too much for Greens, this does not reflect in any way polls of voting intentions.But then, hey, it’s not cool to agree with anything Farage says.
In my opinion, the smaller parties are getting a disproportionate amount of exposure. Consider the Greens, Natalie Nutty was there because 750 people misguidedly voted Green in Brighton and delivered a single MP. They are finding out now in their progressive city that the Greens can’t even get the bins collected while as a consequence of their right-on political protest the rest of us have listen to her nonsense for hours.
Challengers debate? Plaid Cymru has 3 seats in remote parts of west Wales, there are 36 Welsh seats in parliament. Why weren’t the Northern Irish parties represented? Numerically they are more relevant than the Greens and Plaid put together.
Not sure what we learned tonight. All the candidates went home feeling they had had a good night, they also went home also feeling that the media was against them and favoured the other parties. May 8th will reveal all. Personally, I am starting to believe that the Lib Dems may be the biggest beneficiary of these dog fights. Nicola Sturgeon, and to a lesser extent, Leanne wood seemed to be accusing Ed Miliband of being Tory-lite , whereas in reality they are coming over as heavy duty socialists . Another factor of concern was the way that Sturgeon browbeat Miliband which bodes badly for any future possible coalition. If that came to pass…..