I missed the live leader debates on ITV last night as I was out at a pub with friends. On looking at my Facebook on the bus home, Al Murray, currently running as leader of the FUK Party in South Thanet, had posted on his page "Who won the leadership debate? Me, because I am in the pub". When I got home I watched the debate and halfway through left a post on my FB page saying "I'm a bit late catching up on the leader debate on ITV tonight but all those who think anyone "won" was watching a different show". It was, frankly, an awful demonstration of empty sound bites and confusion over what each leader would contribute to the future political landscape. Seven politicians on stage, some who represent only part of the UK and not the whole, bickering and talking over each other was simply ridiculous.
There really wasn't any discussions often the speakers never debated each other's points, they simply made a statement and then argued with some stats pulled out of thin air. There were just too many people on stage.
So here are my views on their performance:
Plaid Cymru, the Welsh party, were completely lost in this debate. I have no idea why they were part of the discussion while the Northern Irish parties were not (actually having Sinn Fein in this debate would have at least been entertaining). However, at least they gave an honest answer when agreeing with UKIP on the ability of the UK to control immigration from within the EU.
The Greens said everyone else was really mean and we should reduce pollution. I'm not disagreeing but that won't help you run the country.
The SNP want to solve the deficit by spending more money. That summaries the ridiculousness of their arguments. Let us have another referendum and let the Scots go independent and pay their own way. Nicola's answers on the NHS and immigration were very 'nice' (on immigrants coming to the UK for treatment she said "we should treat people like human beings when their sick") but unrealistic. Where is the money coming from to pay for this stuff? Apparently there is something called Austerity which they want to end but my Greek, Portuguese and Irish friends haven't seen an ounce of austerity yet, which is why we still have a budget deficit. Fair point guys.
UKIP were unsurprisingly the most direct of the parties. Nigel Farage is always good on stage and the results after show that he was popular. He probably shouldn't have used those with HIV coming for treatment as the example but he was the only completely honest and straight of the panel. Which is why he has done well in the polls after. Doesn't like all the posh and rich folk in Westminster (I agree) but forgets he is a city boy with a lot of money.
The Lib Dems gave no decent answers and were pretty much an empty seat. That's about it. They'll be eliminated in the next parliament. I can't really remember anything Nick said. Wait he's saying something....no it wasn't any good. Oh wait he is saying something again, about a rent to buy scheme. Damn, that was my idea. That's a good idea.
Labour hate rich people and want to tax the crap out of them to pay for stuff (the NHS in Scotland according to the Scottish Labour leader). He constantly said "there David Cameron goes talking about the past, but not the future", while saying nothing about how they will spend money in the future (Ed Milliband, history is a good place to look for answers about the future). Ed Milliband wants to cut the deficit but ones it to be "fairer suffering". Errrr, ok. Nick Clegg finally got one good point in, saying to Ed he should "apologise for crashing the UK economy" and Ed says "yes banks were under regulated". Not sure what that has to do with Labour's control of the economy...
Finally, big DC from the Conservatives. Dave apparently has an "economic plan" which he mentions about a thousand times but doesn't entirely clarify what it is. David has done well over the last 5 years in my view but still comes across terribly on the TV. Empty sound bites are his issue as each response sounds like he is reading off of a script which he probably is. And just as I finish writing someone is shouting from the audience about the Conservative's inability to look after ex-services. As a former serviceman I totally agree. Well done that woman.
This debate left me with one thought in mind: you need to go out and vote. Not because of the excellent performance of these politicians, but because we need people to go and select better politicians. Get involved, take part in the country and start making politics about change and not sound bites.