Friday, 23 April 2010


I'm rather conscious of the fact that I always end up blogging on events at least 12 hours, if not more, after they happen. That's a time issue, unfortunately - not always possible to start committing my thoughts during the working day (and quite often, at evenings too). In this instance, I'm blogging almost 24 hours after the second Leadership debate and the first ever Northern Ireland leadership debate - here are a few meanderings on both. Feel free to disagree...

Firstly, let's go with the national debate. Was much better on Sky than on ITV (pity about the flippin' rolling news ticker at the bottom of the screen) and Adam Boulton committed himself well to the task. Interesting to note that both Cameron and Brown had upped their game from last week; Cameron in particular was much, much better and came across as a Prime Minister in waiting. Brown had a couple of good moments, but the evening belonged to Cameron and Clegg, who held his ground well, even if he did appear to be just a tad under pressure. That's understandable - in the space of a week, he's taken the third party in UK politics to serious contention in the opinion polls and has become easily the most popular politician in the country. He had a lot to prove, but in his defence, did rather well. Brown was, to a certain extent, an onlooker, and his quip about Cameron and Clegg being like his sons squabbling at bath time was quite good (I admit to a slight titter) but was obviously rehearsed. Thank goodness he didn't seem to ''agree with Nick'' so much last night.

I'm still worried, though. Cameron doesn't appear to have ''sealed the deal'' with the voting public and has only one more real chance to do so, at next Thursday evening's debate. This one will focus primarily on the economy, which in theory at least, is good news for Gordon Brown. He may have overseen the near collapse of the British economy with his tax and spend economics and pension fund raiding during his ten years at the Treasury, but he may still be regarded as being of reasonably sound judgement on the economy nonetheless. Certainly, it is ground he'll feel at home on. If Cameron is sensible, he will try to neutralise the Clegg threat by going for the Lib Dems' ever so slightly eccentric economic policies. Cameron is right - only a decisive victory will assist the UK at this difficult time for our economy. Clegg sounds new and fresh, yes, but a vote for him will ultimately be a vote for Gordon Brown. A Parliament where the Lib Dems end up as kingmakers (and it stands a much better chance of being them, or even the SNP, rather than the DUP) would be a short-lived fiasco. The guy has tremendous presentational skills, but a Lib Dem brokered deal isn't the way forward, either for the country, or, I would argue, for Clegg's party. The whiff of power may be intoxicating, but propping up a tired, discredited Labour administration in the event of a hung Parliament might leave them as 'whipping boys' at any subsequent General Election (and history has shown that hung Parliaments have a fairly short lifespan). On this score, my final thought is: it'll be interesting to see if David Dimbleby treats next week's programme as an extended version of Question Time or not...and also; to the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, UKIP, etc; grow up. You lot weren't on the panel for a reason. You stand no chance of leading the UK. Simple, isn't it?

As for the Northern Ireland debate, I regret to say it din't exactly set my world on fire. It should have been a much better, much brighter event, but it really wasn't. In comparison with the Sky debate in Bristol, the UTV debate in Belfast was lacklustre, even a little frustrating at times. Poor old Margaret Ritchie didn't do at all well - reading from her notes at the start was a major error. She seemed to almost blend into the background as well with her red outfit and some of her answers to questions sounded a little laboured and in cases, almost hectoring. To be fair to her, she was probably nervous - after all, she's the shortest serving party leader and hasn't even been in politics as long as Reg Empey, Peter Robinson and Gerry Adams have. For the sake of the SDLP, I hope she improves given time...

Adams came across as very smug and rather cocky. Mind you, he and Sir Reg Empey were probably the best performers on the panel - and I hate to give Adams any credit for anything. His repeated attempts to deny IRA membership bring to mind the old quote: ''Methinks he doth protest too much.'' For Adams to deny IRA links is to take the electorate for fools - mind you, even if he were to admit to membership, it wouldn't do his vote in Belfast West any harm at all; witness Martin McGuinness's 10,000+ majority in Mid-Ulster, and he is openly proud of his 'service' within the IRA.

Robinson came across as rather hectoring and looked under a lot of pressure. I think Reg's comments about the £5 land deal struck a nerve, and he did seem to go off on one. Reg himself performed reasonably well, coming across fairly positively, sounding reasonable and making Valid points. Mind you, I feel he missed a couple of opportunities; when Robinson tried to imply that Reg would just be 'lobby-fodder' for a Conservative and Unionist Government if he were successful in South Antrim, that was Reg's chance to really sell the positive implications of the UCU pact, say that it would leave our MPs with considerably more influence that it would leave his, etc, etc. Just a pity that the parts were better than the whole. Jim Dougal, lovely man though he be, didn't really cut the mustard as host, though. Almost a pity that Mike Nesbitt is a candidate, he would have been very good...

Next national Leaders Debate is Thursday on BBC1, next Northern Ireland debate is Tuesday 4th May, also BBC1.

No comments:

Post a Comment