I never thought I would hear myself say this but. I’m backing Cameron. At least I’m backing him when he says that he does not want a TV debate without the Green Party.
TV leaders “debates” are not debates, they are Punch and Judy shows, stage-managed by the broadcasters to try to win ratings and advertising revenue.
They tell us nothing about what kind of government we will get but everything about which personality comes across best on telly.
TV debates began in America, where there is a better justification of them because Americans get to vote for their president.
Here in Britain, we have to make a choice on our ballot papers on May 7, but the choice is not who we want as primeminister. We do not get to select the primeminister. In fact some of the current party leaders may not even win their respective seats.
We only get to help determine who represents us in our constituency. The people who win a seat then get in a private huddle after the election (and all polls are showing it is very unlikely that any single party will be able to rule) and decide amongst themselves who will be prime minister.
It is right and natural that we base our choice of vote on emotions, on how we “feel” about a paricular party’s principles and the particular local candidates’ personalities. We are right to consider whether we feel that person will stand up for us and for what they believe in. But the individual we are selecting in the polling booth on May 7 is our local representative, not the party leader.
Back in 2010 when the BBC and other broadcasters first decided to stage these puppet shows, Nick Clegg was adjudged the “winner” of the debates and the nation was inflicted with “Cleggmania”: a media-frenzy over one man based on the fact that he wasn’t too sweaty on TV.
This is Roy Greenslade writing about Clegg in April 2010 “Within minutes of the debate’s conclusion, he was acclaimed as some sort of political saviour by commentators on television and radio. By the following day — and every day since — newspaper headlines have been dominated by Clegg. He has become a media star and, if the polls and the endless vox pops are anything to go by, the public’s favourite too.”
Where did that get us? Upon election, Nick Clegg immediately jumped into bed with David Cameron (who was adjudged to have “lost” the debate) and proceeded to ditch all LibDem policies for Conservative ones. Were there any clues that this would happen in the TV debate? No.
Jump forward five years and Clegg-mania has been forgotten. Now we have Farage-fever. Why? Because Nigel comes across well on telly. Because of that he will be adjudged to have “won” any TV debate by the media pundits and the Farage-frenzy will be stoked up some more. But how an ex-public schoolboy and City trader performs in a TV studio talking to professional politicians is no way to judge how the country should be run nor even how he and his handful of MPs will behave once elected.
These tit for tat, yah-boo arguments we are being asked to watch are demeaning and undermining British democracy. They are weakening political discourse and debate, not strengthening it. They are turning politics into a circus. The TV debating studio is like a Roman ampitheatre into which the establishment push their gladiators to entertain and distract the citizenry. This prevents us citizens from actually talking about which direction the nation should be heading in and discourages us from trying to do something about it.
Instead, we are all reduced to armchair pundits, discussing leaders’ hairdo and personal tics, and eventually holding out our thumbs and moving them either up or down.
So I’m backing Cameron. Let’s axe the TV debates. But if we have to have them, for goodness sake include the Green Party. #InviteTheGreens