I’m not sure how much this sort of thing is reported internationally, but in the UK we are rapidly approaching a General Election and last night was a historic night in British politics: the leaders of the three main parties stood up on live television and had a debate, answering questions from the audience. OK, OK so there were quite stringent rules (for instance, the audience weren’t allowed to clap, jeer or generally react or make noise, though there was some laughter once or twice)) and the presenter wasn’t allowed to probe their claims, but it was interesting even if it wasn’t perfect.
So you’ll have to forgive me if I post about politics over the next few weeks …
Brown, Clegg , Cameron & Alistair Stewart, the presenter. Photo from The Guardian.
There has been much talk about a hung Parliament, which kinda makes sense – there’s so little to choose between Labour and Conservative, that the country may as well share their vote almost equally between the two. Although there are dangers with a hung Parliament (that is, where no one party wins an outright majority in the House of Commons), I think it’s what a great many people in the country want. We are all so disillusioned with the two main parties (both the same) and the political system, that we want to shake them up, perhaps even remind them that they only have their power thanks to us, the everyday person on the street, the electorate.
I thought Nick Clegg was a revelation, which is both a good and bad thing. As the leader of the Liberal Democrats, he stands in a very unusual position in this election: many believe a Liberal Democrat vote is a wasted vote as they ‘can’t win’ a General Election, yet if there is a hung Parliament it is most likely his party that will be asked to ally with Labour or the Conservatives to form a Government.
After last night, I think he will have won a great many voters to his party’s cause – great, my political views are closest to those of the Lib Dems (lefty liberals) – but I fear that it comes at greater cost to Labour (historically more left wing) than to the Conservatives (traditionally more right wing), which I am worried may swing the balance. If Labour loose too much of the vote, there won’t be enough of an even split between Labour and Conservative to cause a hung Parliament, leaving the Conservatives the outright leaders.
To me, that’s the worst possible scenario – I dislike the Conservatives and their values and goals (for example, to re-introduce fox hunting despite the fact the majority of the country is against it. Never mind my personal views on the issue, but to bring back a practice that the majority of the nation opposes goes against the basic principal of democracy, which is a general feature of the party – benefit their buddies and sod everyone else.) and I think their rule without the temperance of a Liberal Democrat alliance would be terrible for the people of this country.
But all that is some weeks away yet – we’ll have to wait until 6th of May to see what happens, and there are more debates and more campaigning in the meantime. Three weeks is a long time in UK politics.
A few predictions:
- The Lib Dems will be under greater scrutiny as Clegg has been declared the ‘winner’ of the first debate.
- After his disappointing performance in the debate, Cameron will try to play the underdog in the next one.
- Many will still think of a Lib Dem vote as a ‘wasted vote’.
- Many will vote for Lib Dems as a protest against the traditional Labour/Conservative two-horse race, but not enough to make a Lib Dem government.
- Cameron will continue to be slimy to viewers and the audience in future debates. (He’ll continue to mention how his children go to state schools and how great he thinks the NHS is and how proud he is of it and our country, a variation on this theme is his praise for our service-men and -women.)
- Brown will continue to be slimy to Clegg in future debates.
- Both Brown and Cameron will be somewhat tougher on Clegg in future debates since he did so well this time, while at the same time they will continue to court him just in case there is a hung Parliament – they still want him on-side. (Last night it was really interesting to see how deferential they were towards him – they would talk over each other, but whenever Clegg spoke up, they both fell silent.)
- There will be drinking games in future debates based around how often they do any of the following: Cameron/Brown suck up to Clegg, anyone says “brave service-men and -women” or thanks someone for their hard work as a nurse/teacher/member of the armed forces/etc, they pay lip service to Parliamentary reform, apologises for the expenses scandal … and so on.
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