GE2015 minus 07: back… and questions and answers

Posted: 30 April 2015 in general election 2015, politics
Tags: , ,

Thanks for bearing with me over the past week; as I mentioned, we suffered a family bereavement (my ex-wife lost her mother) and so the last few days have been fairly busy with… stuff, including a shiva.

For understandable reasons, then, I’ve only sporadically been online and only picked up now and then the election news. However, one thing I noticed was… well, maybe noticed isn’t strong enough a word to use. I’ve… let us say ‘had it thrust in my face’, even moreso than in the last few years, the fact that the Conservatoive party really doesn’t want my vote.

It’s not that the Tories are inherently evil; I don’t believe that for a second and anyone who says they are generally drops a few points in my respect for them. But throughout this parliament in general and the election campaign in particular, the Conservative Party in its current form seems to have gone out of their way to find different policies to piss me off, different arguments to offend me, and different presentations to irritate me. So, yeah, for whatever reason, I’m becoming convinced, simply, thar the Conservative Party doesn’t want my vote. And while I’ve not 100% decided my vote, I’m not entirely convinced that they deserve it either.

Anyway, what with being away from 24 hour politics for a week, it’s been weird catching up with the campaigns tonight in the final Question Time before the election. It wasn’t a debate between the leaders; if anything, it was a debate between the party leaders and the audience. Indeed, one person following the exchanges on Twitter asked if the BBC could have have a political series just featuring the audience. It was that sort of crowd: not willing to take the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition on face value. Each of them were tested and each of them was found waiting on one or two points.

The format was simple: each of the three of them (David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg) faced the audience one at a time for 28 minutes.

Let’s take them one at a time. Well, actually, before I do that, let me make one point that was incredibly obvious: Nick Clegg was the only one of the three to treat the audience members as individual people. Both Cameron and Miliband seemed to answer questions with the formula: “hello, [insert name]… [insert boilerplate answer]”.

So, David Cameron. To be fair to the audience, they gave him a rough time and he was permanently on the backfoot. That said, at no point, did he fail to get his answers out. But I can’t believe for a moment that he convinced any undecided voter to go ‘yeah, he convinced me; I’m voting Conservative.” He ducked the question about potential coalitions, or confidence and supply arrangements, but did so entirely unconvincingly. And he continued to dodge any questions that he didn’t like. It was political cowardice of the highest order, but I suspect he’ll be regarding his performance as ‘all right’.

Next came Ed Miliband. I could pretty much copy what I said about Cameron, except that he didn’t duck questions. He answered them passionately, and earnestly, but somehow equally unconvincingly. When it came to questions about potential post-election negotiations. Hhe flatly ruled out any deal with the SNP. Now some might think he’s either daft or lying when he said that; I don’t. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing, sure in the knowledge that the SNP won’t, can’t, vote to keep the Tories in power. Again, like Cameron, I don’t think he convinced anyone who hadn’t already decided to vote Labour next week and again, he’ll be regarding his performance as ‘all right’.

Finally, Nick Clegg and I suspect I’m not the only person who’d forgotten how good he can be in front of a live audience. He engaged with every questioning audience member; well, all but one and I’ll mention that in a minute. From the first question, tuition fees was mentioned and he didn’t hide his admission that he’d got it wrong, and that some people would never forgive him. Out of the three of them, I thought he was the most honest about his party’s standing and chances in the election. And of the three leaders, he was also the only one who seemed to want to convince the audience one person at a time. Apart from one. I usually am very intolerant of politicians ‘slapping down’ members of the audience. I figure dealing politely with impolite questions in part of the job. But one person aggressively demanded to know if Clegg had plans for Friday when he loses his election and is out of Parliament. There was a flash of anger from Clegg’s eyes and he said “Charming.” Then “no” and he moved onto the next question. I don’t blame Clegg at all; I think he was fairly restrained in the circvumstances. 

I’ve no idea whether Clegg has convinced anyone, but he certainly came closer than the other two, and I think he’ll be rightly pleased with his performance.

Apparantly, in England, Nigel Farage will be answering questions in about twenty minutes. To be honest, unless the first question is “why the fuck don’t you fuck the fuck right off?”, I’m not really that interested.

Something more substantial tomorrow, ok?

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