Things I am Pondering as I wonder about this question:

  • Are the debates swaying anyone? Reality TV Politics? Is it going to be down to words speaking louder than actions?

These are just some of the thoughts that have been through my mind as I have mused on the the debates that I watched (No. 1 all the way through, No.2, almost to the end, and No.3, not at all) and been doing a skim read of some of the reported commentary on them.

Are the debates swaying anyone?

According to the polls, Cameron ‘won’ last week’s debates, with Clegg a close second, and Brown in third. The Election polls themselves generally have the Conservatives leading, followed by Labour – though some fluctuation with Lib Dems. The Telegraph’s Poll Tracker – provided by the likes of YouGov, MORI etc – has it at Con 36%, Lab 29%, Lib Dem 26%

There is also much talk of an ‘Hung Parliament’ and polls are asking people to vote for which pairing they would like to see. I think Nick Clegg would probably have a clear opinion of what the pairing – if it had to happen – would be. On Friday, he was quoted on, on the news front page as saying: “That’s why this campaign is now boiling down to a simple choice, a two-horse race between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party”.

It is also definitely fair to say that Clegg’s popularity has been heightened quite significantly by his stage presence and articulation in these debates – noted as being the winner of the 1st. Though as one commentator in the New York Times (Alan Cowell) touches upon, where in the beginning there was the novelty of him being: ‘the outsider who surprised with his fresh-faced appeal, the course of 2 weeks has made many used to that’, and perhaps (the following being my opinion), less charmed by it.

But though these polls are a representative reflection of public opinion, are these reflected in the conversations of friends, and neighbours? I can’t say I have a representative poll of people, but I am still hearing comments such as:

“I don’t trust any of them”, “I don’t bother with voting”, “not sure I can be bothered with any of it anymore (referring to watching the final debate), I’m tempted to turn over and watch 24″…

Reality TV Politics?

I read an interesting piece by Heidi Stephens – Reality TV Blogger for, in which she compared the happenings of the debate, with particular reference to to the final one last Thursday, to X-Factor.

I think it is a comparison that has some mileage. After months of pre-election ‘auditions, we have been presented with the 3 leaders of our main parties, who before the nation and world, have had to ‘perform’ set pieces that have been chosen for them, given a chance to show how they handle different types of song/genre/topic. Put through their paces in the week, with the highlights shown before each ‘show’, we have seen them in pressurised conditions, scrutinised each nuance or ‘phrasing’ and let’s face it to a fair if not significant extent, liked or not liked them (notice the ‘them’ not their politics) on the basis of how their personality has come across after each ‘performance’, and then left them open to the weekly public vote, and now we await the final verdict to see who will emerge as the 2010 Election ‘winner’.

Maybe this is a stretch too far, or is it? I wonder if there is a significant amount of the eligible voting public who will be voting based not on what they understand, or believe about what is promised in the parties manifestos, not what they know and understand about the parties and the 3 leaders in question’s track record, rather what they have seen of their TV performances over these last 3 weeks.

Going back to the piece by Heidi Stephen’s which sparked some of this thought, here’s how she rounded-up her piece:

“What would Cheryl say?

Nick, you’re cheeky and cute and I think the girls will really love you. You’ve been on such an amazing journey and I’ve loved seeing how far you’ve come.

Dave, it was another amazing performance, but also not as good as last week, when you were even more amazing.

Gordon, you definitely made it your own, and I know how amazingly hard you’ve worked this week.

I’d love to see you all win, because that would be amazing, except Number 10 probably isn’t big enough, especially with Dave having a baby on the way and everything.” April 29th – Heidi Stephens

Is it going to be down to words speaking louder than actions?

Last week we had Gordon’s Gaffe, which I have seen referred to as Granny Gate. In this instance, his ‘words’ definitely spoke louder than his actions, and in fact even the words he had not long uttered. However, I am sure that the 2 other leaders have had just such moments, they have just not been caught doing it.

Will the ‘oops’ factor, of Gordon Brown’s Gaffe, and possibly the lack of his words coming over so well in the live debates be taken as greater markers to form our decisions, and potentially his demise, than his actions, and that of his party in the last 13 years?

Will the ‘fresh appeal’ of Nick Clegg, and his well articulated words, and promises of ‘change’ – which he says everyone wants, with the only (my word) question being: what kind? – cause enough of a sway to give power to a party who were last in office as a majority government in WW1?

Will David Cameron – also promising change – be able to convince people with his words, that declare:

“This election is far from over, we are now entering the most energetic and most important stage of this campaign which is getting to every part of the country and convincing people if you want change to happen… then it’s the Conservatives that can deliver that.”

I am not a great follower of politics, so my words and thoughts are still evolving, based on the current events, coverage, and commentary. And based on these, I struggle with the fact that it seems we will be voting mostly on what we have heard said, and promised, with for the most part nothing more than the ‘words’ of these leaders as ‘proof of intent’, but no surety of them actually delivering, or being able to deliver what they are saying they will.

And I wonder, as one commentator I read touches upon, whether it would be wise to risk change at this point? Which was also the point of view of someone I was in conversation with after the 1st live debate.

From what I understand, Labour’s rule has not been without fiasco, and the recent events of the expenses scandal – which figured heavily in the 2nd debate – placed a large taint on their rule, though as Cameron pointed out, none of the parties escaped untainted. Yet, on the other hand, when regarding whether Gordon should be ‘our man’, as I read today:

“…after weathering the economic storm, after helping to save the banks, after investing in schemes to keep unemployment and mortgage possessions lower than most people dared to hope for and after investing billions in schools, hospitals and tax credits, he also embodies Labour’s warning against the risk of change.” Nick Robinson’s BBC Newslog  ‘Risk v Change’ – 30th April 2010.

So who will get our vote, and why? Well, we’ll find out the who on the 6th, as to the why?…

*The content of this post also appears on the following site: Junk Government