Sunday, 8 March 2015

Debating the Debates

How idiotic is this? When there are real issues to be debated and discussed, what's the biggest, hottest topic in the public arena this week? The economy? Employment? Living standards? Terrorism?

No, it's the much-hyped television debates ahead of this coming May's General Election. The broadcasters have again been devising their preferred choices, formats and participants for these, and the political parties who will be involved have been having their own say.

Now, the complex story of who has said what, agreed to what or vetoed whatever is not sensible to go over here, but now narcissistic is all this in reality? Although I am in favour of these debates, and have been consistently from when they were mooted five years ago, it has to be said that they are in constant danger of becoming a sideshow if not handled intelligently and what I'd call 'cleanly'.

Sadly, Labour are trying to make a political football out of the debates issue (sad or what?) and there are some others who are doing the same (sadder still!) Now, I have to say that David Cameron hasn't handled this the best way he could – though I do realise that we was, at heart, trying to be helpful and constructive, but has in the end left himself open to easy criticism from the other parties and, perhaps, from broadcasters themselves.

Incidentally, the Cameron/Miliband 'head to head' would almost certainly be challenged legally by parties who consider themselves to be 'the third party', and at least a few legal experts seem to think this would be taken seriously within the legal system and would no doubt take months to resolve, thus scuppering such an event completely. This isn't the time to be proposing such a contentious idea!

In the end, whatever is decided, David Cameron really must attend whatever of these debates in which he is ultimately invited to participate, regardless of any earlier stance. Any other approach will be used against him and his party.

After all, it isn't (as some opponents are claiming) that he is 'afraid' of debating issues with anyone. He has shown consistently over the years that he is far and away the best at the job in British politics – once one sees through the bluster of Farage and past the nastiness of Galloway, both of whom are significantly inferior debaters despite their superficial ability to apparently dominate whenever they are given free rein (which Cameron usually isn't given, by the way).

It is interesting to see that, although people are generally in favour of the televised debates – and, as I indicated above, I am one of those – they don't seem to have any measurable impact on actual voting intention, as this article shows. After all, we never needed them before the previous election, Tony Blair refused to participate before that, and it's all much of a muchness as far as the country at large is concerned, as polls have shown no strong leanings n favour of them.

Perhaps we all ought to get back to concentrating on real issues!

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