- The fact that elections increasingly focus on the performances and personalities of the leaders places them under almost intolerable strain. The only comparable situation I can think of is that of military commanders in battles of movement. I am not surprised that, under these circumstances, Mr Brown should have made an unguarded comment. It would be interesting to know what unguarded comments the other leaders have made, without the misfortune of having them broadcast through a live microphone.The Prime Ministerial debates have exacerbated this situation. In this election we have heard little of the other leading politicians in any of the parties (who can name five from each, never mind the 25 or so who would constitute a cabinet?) and the candidates in the constituencies have become mere ciphers. To adapt a phrase: "The exposure of the party leaders has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished." Debates between the spokespersons of the parties on all major areas (see post, Party Leaders' Debate, 14th April) would help to spread the load and give us a better understanding not only of the different policies but also the strengths of the rival teams.
- Mr Brown's unguarded comments give us further evidence, if such were needed, that these "casual" encounters with "ordinary" voters are not casual and ordinary at all, but carefully staged, or at least, that is the attempt. The incident adds fuel to the view that all politicians are dishonest spinners. More open honesty might reap dividends.
- Since the days of Enoch Powell, and probably before, the subject of immigration has never been properly and openly discussed. This is because the politicians are frightened of upsetting those floating voters in a handful of key marginal seats who, under our flawed system, decide elections. It is interesting that in last night's debate none of the three leaders put the case for immigration: all the emphasis was who would best curb it or, in Nick Clegg's case, cope with it. Similarly, the arguments for Europe, for higher taxes to create a decent society, for a more enlightened and effective method of dealing with criminals, are never put. The first past the post electoral system enables the tabloids to set the political agenda. STV could change that and lead to a more grown up debate.
Friday, 30 April 2010
Gordon Brown's "bigot" Gaffe.
There are at least thee lessons which can be learned from Gordon Brown's much pubicised "gaffe" earlier this week.