Prime ministerial debates: Style over substance?

Posted on: 23 April 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

Has policy been replaced by spin and media technique? The second prime ministerial debate was 'policy-lite'\; leaving us with little specific information and a host slick sound bites on which to gamble the nation's future growth.

Well, we’ve had the second of the three televised prime ministerial debates, but what have we learned? One thing is for sure, this is not an election about policies – stop any man in the street and I’m pretty certain that they would not be able to recite the keys themes of the three parties.

That said, they will be able to tell you that Labour argues that it is the more experienced of the parties to run the country; that the Tories clarion cry is that it’s time to change and cut government bureaucracy and the Liberal Democrats say ‘a curse on your house’ – let’s do it a different way!

The Lib Dems leader, Nick Clegg, did talk a lot of sense last night and was by far the most amiable of the three. Can he win the election? No, the voting system in the UK is horribly skewed against such an outcome – if we do see a two party government, this is sure to be a key change that the Liberals will demand. One thing Clegg has changed is the way this election will pan out! This has been a defining campaign and Liberals of the future will remember this as ‘the day of the new dawn’ rather than David Steel's early Eighties false dawn.

As expected, Gordon Brown came out fighting, but what should have been determined, forceful debating came across as little more than bully boy tactics and his silly remark comparing Cameron and Clegg to his sons squabbling at bath time was frankly insulting – both to his opponents and the electorate. He was predictable and aggressive but his message was much of the same.

Cameron was better than his first appearance and reminded the viewer of what he would do if he were Prime Minister – a tactic with good effect! His was a polished media performance and that was reflected in the polls that appeared this morning, placing him with a narrow  lead over the other two parties
Who will win the election?

My feeling is now on a Tory Liberal coalition! Having said that, I still believe it is an open field and there are more twists and turns to come, which could just give the Conservatives a tiny majority! Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!

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