GE2015 minus 35: leaders to the left of them, leaders to the right…

Posted: 2 April 2015 in general election 2015, politics
Tags: , , , ,

In just over an hour, the only leaders’ debate including the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister of this general election campaign will take place. It’ll be a two hour fiasco, with only four actual questions asked. To have a debate with only four questions, in a world growing ever more complex, reduces the spectacle from merely useless to utterly absurd. Expectation management is already taking place, with Cameron’s obvious nervousness last week – when facing Jeremy Paxman – being held up by the Tories as no more than to be expected; I’m guessing that way, when he does a perfectly serviceable job tonight, it’ll be held up as him winning the thing no matter what actually happens.

 

 Indeed, the Daily Telegraph‘s cartoonist Matt pretty much predicted the result five years ago with the attached cartoon. Labour supporters will be saying Miliband won, Tories Cameron, the SNP Sturgeon and so on through the ranks. And, as the old saw has it about war, truth will be the first casualty. Unless one of them throws up on stage from nerves or swears at the Prime Minister (and come on, the temptation’s got to be there), everyone will claim victory, no one will admit failure and no-one will learn anything. To be fair, that’s going to be the overwhelming feeling most people will get from tonight: no-one’s going to learn anything. It’s highly unlikely, to put it mildly, that any of the party’s leaders are going to unveil a new policy, because they’ll all be worried that someone else is going to and the other leader’s policy will reduce the effect of their own. So all we’re going to see if squabbling about previously announced policies that may or may not end up in the manifesto. A reminder that we haven’t even seen the manifestos yet, despite politcians of all stripes promising that this or that policy will be in there.

Common wisdom appears to suggest that Cameron will have the easiest ride tonight, as the left will be splintered between Plaid Cymru, The Greens, the SNP and, of course, Labour, whereas Cameron can only be attacked from the right by Nigel Farage. And, though it’s always risky to predict anything, I think Farage is going to lose tonight, and lose big. 

I don’t know about anything else though; how much attention will anyone really be paying to either Plaid Cymru when the overwhelming majority of people can’t vote for a PC candidate, and no matter how well they do, they’re not going to hold the balance of power after the election. Now are the greens, but anyone interested in politics will be watching to see how Natalie Bennett holds up in the cut-and-thrust, sorry… chaos of tonight.

I’ll be very interested to see how Nicola Sturgeon does. A cartoon did the rounds earlier today. This one:

  

I was fascinated to get a reply after I retweeded the cartoon, suggesting that the taking a pop at Nicola Sturgeon for merely being a proxy for Alex Salmond was sexist. Fascinated and astonished. I don’t think such a view is sexist in the slightest; I genuinely think that whoever took over as leader of the SNP after Salmond would face the same charge, especially since Salmond himself has hardly gone out of his way to rebut it. (I also think that if there was sexism involved, then the leaders of the the Greens and Plaid Cymru would have been similarly attacked. And they haven’t been. No-one knows enough about Leanne Wood, although there was a very good profile of her on Radio 4 last weekend, and Natalie Bennett’s disaster of an interview was a disaster no matter her sex; male politicians have had equally bad interviews and they get as much grief.

But as far as the SNP goes, and Nicola Sturgeon. I think it’s more a deep seated mistrust of Salmond, a man who’s never been known for willingly playing second fiddle in anyone’s orchestra, let alone the party to which he’s devoted his political career. He was the leader of the party for over twenty years, in two stints. And, of course there’s his malleable view on political pledges. When he left office in 2000, and was succeeded by John Swinney, he said that he would not seek to return as leader. Of course, four years later, he did precisely that, so he’s got form. I think that Salmond’s ‘power behind the throne’ attitude and behaviour in the past and especially since he stepped down this time is what’s led to the suspicion and/or fervent belief that he’ll change his mind and run for the leadership again.

Ah well, we shall see what we shall see. 

Enjoy the fiasco tonight. Just don’t think it’ll change anything; it’ll only confirm pre-existing loyalties and already expressed views. The spin doctors have already written tomorrow’s headlines and it’s just a matter of who’s lazy enough to just print them without correcting the typos.

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