Sunday, 7 March 2010

Is everyone else as bored?

We keep being told the General Election Leaders' TV debates will bring a bit of excitement to the contest and could make or break the parties.

I must be in a minority here. I find the prospect of these programmes boring in the extreme. In fact I am stiffling a yawn now.

(Actually Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times today seems to feel the same - not someone I usually agree with but still)

There are two main reasons I think these debates are a mistake. Firstly the huge number of agreed rules means this is not a debate but a series of statements linked by a presenter. I have seen some of the US Presidential "debates" and on the whole they are just soundbites with stuff in between.

OK someone can do badly because they look a bit odd or they make a small mistake. But do we really want our voting intentions to be affected by someone with the wrong sort of make up or someone who makes a small gaffe (and given the nature of these programmes any mistake will be small).

My main problem however is not the rules but the existence of the debates themselves. Politics is already becoming too Presidential in my view. When we vote we vote for a local candidate. OK it helps to know something about the potential Prime Minister but when I vote in Garston I am not voting for Nick Clegg, or Gordon Brown or David Cameron. It's my name on the ballot paper. By focusing more and more on a few personalities we are moving to a point at which no one actually looks at the policies and ideals.

I'll be out when these programmes are on - on a doorstep somewhere. But I won't be recording them, that's for sure.

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