I spent this morning sitting down and watching #BattleForNumber10 (because hashtags are so in this season). The joy of not having a TV is being unable to watch things live so instead of joining in the conversation yesterday evening I woke up today, cooked up some pasta, got some work out of the way, then sat down and watched it with a cup of tea.
It’s the first of these leadership debates, and it was certainly interesting watching. I cheered at the aggressive return of Paxman who clearly has been relishing the opportunity to verbally maul people for a while. I noted the more aggressive approach Burley seemed to have taken with Miliband, and definitely concluded that – at least now – I would not make a good impartial moderator.
And I agree with a lot of the analysis – Cameron would probably have fairer slightly better in a head-to-head, but I think that honestly Cameron would have fairer even better without any debates. He has to argue he’ll make things better despite having had an opportunity to do so for the past five years, whilst Miliband’s giant problem is not looking like a leader. The more chances you give him to be on T.V then more chances he gets to break that perspective. I’m not against this – I am no Tory – but as someone interested in tactics it must suck to go into televised debates knowing that in the last election they drove you into a coalition government. In my view the broadcast kept Cameron at a fairly neutral position; if you thought he was terrible you still did, if you thought he was a statesman you still did. He came across as a politician, including the politician’s tendency to try and weasel out of answers, but Miliband came across as engaging, quite frankly spoken, and passionate.
And yet after looking around online I was surprised to see there were a fair amount of people for whom the conclusion was the inverse. I suppose that in the end we strive to find points that shore up our own bias so I must have been picking up things that supported my preferred end result. Perhaps I was being a tad unfair in my assessment – maybe I was just more resistant to Burley going after the left-wing choice (although I don’t think so – I may need to rewatch) and giving Miliband too much of a pass on his lack of stats.
When it comes to elections though, I’m not really the vote that matters. Sure I do vote, but at the end of the day I am one of those people that will tend to vote for defined side of the political spectrum. I’m not going to vote right-wing and likely never will. I’m not part of that swath of uncommitted middle ground voters who could tip either way. So long as I am mobilised to go to the polls the main parties likely won’t waste their time courting me. That’s why I enjoy watching these debates – I get a good sense of what politician’s think the middle ground cares about, and then I get to pretend that I could be better (I totally could).
As it stands we’re looking at another coalition being formed in the days after May 7th. Hopefully the upcoming debates will tilt it to the side that I would prefer, and will shore up a more rational approach to hot button topics such as immigration which are increasingly becoming hysterical. Still, we’ve got a few more weeks to go before then.