A Reaction to The Leader’s Debate: Stranded in “Floaterville”

ITV clearly resurrecting the set of Catchphrase circa 1990

Last night, we bore witness to the UK’s first ever televised leader’s debate. I don’t pretend to know much about politics and have never voted. I feel bad about this but I’ve always been unsure about who to vote for despite having an interest in the subject. It’s awful that I’ve never voted but watching last night, I was determined to make an open-minded and informed decision. The Metro said today that most “floating voters” (that would be me then!) are picked-up in national debates such as this, so being “floater” (!) myself, I switched on, grabbed a cup of tea and watched with interest to see what three of our potential future Prime Ministers had to say for themselves.

A whole lot of nothing?

I was expecting fire and passion from the three candidates because there’s lots to talk about. I wanted more of a verbal jostling for power and more of a “debate” but it was all a bit stale. Gordon Brown (Labour), David Cameron (Conservative) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) were much like waxworks for the first thirty minutes or so. Audience members asked questions about immigration, crime, healthcare and, of course, the economy.

A still from Brown's series of youtube videos: This is his "happy" face (!)

Around 40-minutes into the debate, it seemed Brown started to get some balls about him as he started making little veiled digs at Cameron underneath the mask of that famous Gordon Brown “smile”. It was the most personality he had shown since the whole time he’s been in power. And, no, those youtube videos don’t count.

Comedy aside though, back to the policies! Although Clegg came across as quite sincere and harmless, I didn’t really learn much about him beyond this. He mentioned his “constituency in Sheffield” about five times in the space of ten minutes and I didn’t feel he and his party were strong enough to lead the country. Perhaps he didn’t get across the party’s core values strongly enough? I’m not sure what it was really – I just didn’t learn much about the policies and he seemed a little weak. So I was surprised at the opinion polls post-debate suggesting he was the favourite of the evening.

David "smooth as a baby's bum" Cameron: Would you trust this man?

Cameron gets a lot of flack and it’s hard trust anyone with a face that creepy and smooth. But I digress… Cameron was quite subdued and from hearing him speak before about Conservative policies, I immediately wasn’t interested. I feel he had the most to prove and he blew it. I’m more confident after seeing his performance last night that the Conservatives will hopefully lose this election.

And back to current Prime Minister, Mr. Brown. Gordon Brown has received a lot of criticism since he came into power. Tony Blair left at the right time – just as the shit storm hit the UK economy and politics – but Blair’s departure is most certainly not the only reason why Brown has received so much bad press. I too was angry at the way Brown dealt with the economy and the onset of the recession, for example. But it’s a tricky situation – how do you beat a national and global recession? There are many theories, Brown made a decision and had to run with it.

I wanted to be really open-minded last night. I felt out of all the candidates, Brown clearly stated Labour’s policies concisely, with precision. He may not have the best personality or the warmest demeanor but I’m not voting for a personality, I’m voting for a party with policies I understand and agree with.

However, when the debate ended, I felt little more confused than when I started watching. On one hand, Clegg seemed sincere and more “normal” than the other two. On the other hand, my overriding feeling is: Do we need to change just for the sake of it or should we stick with Labour? I don’t believe in just changing for the sake of it and I don’t really care if someone seemed “cooler” than the rest.

Although the debate didn’t give me any real profound insight into the three parties’ policies, it certainly gave me food for thought and I will be researching each party carefully before I decide to vote.

A gardener, a chocoholic or a smoker?

Nick Clegg: He has a constituency in Sheffield don't you know!

I was reading excerpts from an interview in Zest Magazine about what each party leader does in his spare time. I found it ridiculous and irrelevant – I don’t really care that David Cameron likes gardening or that Gordon Brown is a chocoholic. I found it amusing how Clegg said he liked to nip out for a smoke but his wife hates it. Yes, we get it, you’re just one of us. Then various newspapers reporting on Gordon Brown’s wife, Sarah‘s, “weird feet”. Who cares!

On Saturday I ran myself a bath and intended to carry out my weekend ritual of reading Elle, Vogue and Glamour, fully face-masked and ready to relax post-gym. The politicians had even managed to infiltrate the fashion world with a big article on what they can do for the fashion industry in Elle and an interview in Glamour. I just found it all a bit dull – the core of it all should be the big policies that effect us all – I’m not really into this PR spin and don’t believe or give a crap whether Gordon Brown or David Cameron really care about the fashion world . Moreover, never has there been a time when I’ve known more about what politician’s wives are wearing as opposed to what their husband’s party policies are. I think we should all get our priorities straight here.

My boyfriend Paul made a good point last night in reference to the campaigning style of each candidate and the media’s coverage of the election and how it really reflects our times – most of the votes rely on good media training and a great team of marketing and PR people. I’ve read more about oddly shaped toes and leaders’ hobbies than I have about policies stated clearly and concisely for all to understand. For example, Armando Iannucci mentioned on Twitter and on Sky News last night that no one has really answered the question yet of what each party intends to do about the £27 billion that the UK has accrued in debt during the recession.

To float or not to float, that is the question…

So I’m still undecided whether to vote. I’m still stuck in floaterville.

I visited a website this morning, which outlines the policies of each party, you choose which you agree with and then it tells you who you should vote for based on your choices. Check it out HERE.

It turns out I’m 50% Green, 25% Liberal Democrats and 25% Labour. At least I’m not BNP! So I guess that’s a good place to start and I’ll be looking into those parties’ policies over the weekend.

There’s still hope yet. I may turn from floater to voter, who knows, miracles happen!

8 responses to “A Reaction to The Leader’s Debate: Stranded in “Floaterville”

  1. Vote Green! – they obviously won’t get into power but their policies are sound and if enough people vote for them they may have a chance to influence policy in the major parties and make a real difference on how we deal with the environment, immigration even the voting procedure (which is hugely flawed)
    I’m just disappointed that last night’s debate didn’t include leaders from other parties who all have interesting and (sometimes) intellegent viewpoints that may have really challenged the big three.

    • Agreed on all points there Steve. I think people need to know there are more options out there than just Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems! x

      • Hey Limbo,

        Good honest words here, and well thought through, appreciate ou;re honesty on not voting…

        My view on voting, is always vote even if you don’t know enough about politics, go with you’re gut. I know that isn’t the most logical decision, but what decision in life is?

        I’ll be voting Lib D’s, why? Not that I expect them to win or that I think that Nick Cleg is their greatest leader, and you’re right, they aren’t that powerful enough yet and really don’t have enough media clout to get their message across. However, I’d like it if one day, we didn’t live in society that tries to strangle all our basic freedoms and in both Labour and Tory’s I can see society continuing down the same path…so my gut instinct says, if you don’t try something different, you can’t expect change.

        so anyway that’s my take on it.

      • Yo Nanny B,

        I know what you mean – I’ve been very encouraged by the comments on and offline to vote. I’m going to research and understand what I’m voting for. I want to know about the other parties to (see Steve’s comment). I’m also fed up of the Labour / Tory thing – more choice I say. Now I need to sort out that registration form! Argh! x

  2. Pingback: TV Review: The Leader’s Debate·

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  4. Looking at the honesty indicators in the final debate, Gordon Brown comes across as having the most honest language profile. Clegg comes in a distant second with Cameron close behind Clegg.

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