Friday, April 16, 2010

UK General Election 2010 - the first televised leaders' debate

Last night was the (first of three) live televised debates between the leaders of the three main parties:

The incumbent Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party, Gordon Brown
The leader of the Opposition and Conservative Party leader David Cameron
The leader of the Liberal Democrats party, Nick Clegg

This was an historic event since it was the first live television debate in a UK election.

It was a long debate - run without a break for 90 minutes - and I thought it was moderated very well by Alastair Stewart. I didn't like the the lack of audience noise though (no audience applause was allowed). It was like the audience wasn't there. The topics discussed were Immigration; the National Health Service (NHS); Education; Law and Order; and Political reform.

Nick Clegg appeared to be the most relaxed and speaking much more candidly than Mr Brown and Mr Cameron. And I was very pleased when Nick Clegg mentioned scrapping both identity cards and the National Programme for IT. He talked about the expense of the ID cards and how that money could be spent on more police officers on the streets. So true.

When the debate turned to political reform, Gordon Brown turned to David Cameron and said, "Please no more hereditary MPs." I was pleased to hear David Cameron's retort, "You've had 13 years to reform the House of Lords." Quite.

It was noticeable (and quite funny) how often Gordon Brown said, ""I agree with Nick". Hilarious! It wasn't exactly a subtle way to show that he's courting Nick and the Liberal Democrats for their votes!

Nick Clegg has been hailed as the winner of the first televised leaders' debate.

I enjoyed watching the debate, however, I don't think I learned any new information about the respective policies of each party leader so even though it was interesting to watch and probably inevitable that this sort of tv debate would happen here, I'm not sure of its usefulness. To me, it's the policies that matter, not how the person "looks" on tv.

Did you watch the debate? Do you think the tv debate is a good idea? Who do you think "won" the debate? Did the debate change the way you will vote?

If you missed it, you can watch the debate again:

The First Election Debate on ITV1: 15th April 2010


  1. I had the TV on but was on the PC so I sort of half watched it!
    The programme was so managed and packaged that I really feel that it was a waste of time.
    They should all be confident enough to face a live audience and answer any questions asked. That won't happen and that's one reason why I don't believe or trust them. Flighty xx

  2. Excellent point, Flighty. I agree about the programme being too managed. It didn't really present the "real" leaders to the public. And as you say, they won't face a live audience and answer any questions asked. I was also very disappointed by how managed it all was.

  3. This was very similar to our presidential debates here in the USA (with the notable exception of a minority candidate). Our debates also don't allow the audiences to aplaud (in order to save time). The issues discussed are much the same as those in the USA: immigration, healthcare, education, terrorism and crime. Obviously, Gordon Brown doesn't see Nick Clegg as a serious contender, otherwise he wouldn't be openly agreeing with him. David Cameron and Nick Clegg appeared youthful and vigorous. Gordon Brown appeared old and grey, but he didn't stutter (as so often happens at Prime Minister's Question Time).

    If I could vote in UK elections, I would vote for David Cameron.

  4. It does seem like the UK General Election debates are set up to be very much like the ones in the USA. I know it saves time to make a no applause rule but it makes the debate too controlled.

    The reason Gordon Brown was openly agreeing with Nick Clegg is because Brown is courting the Lib Dems. Mr Brown wants Lib Dem supporters in Labour-Conservative marginals to vote tactically to defeat the Conservative candidate. But as someone pointed out in an article I read, if Brown agrees with Nick so much, why vote for Brown, when you could have Nick instead?

    My biggest concern about the Labour Party is their policy regarding civil liberties (ID cards, surveillance and databases).

  5. It should be pointed out that the Liberal Democrats have done more to further the cause of the children of British mothers than any other group; they were instrumental in changing the law when the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 was being debated and when the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 was being debated. They have been our strongest supporters; we owe them a debt of gratitude.

  6. Indeed. Thank you for pointing that out.