The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Looking Prime Ministerial

Posted by The Futility Monster on March 3, 2010 @ 09:26

Cleggy has to be the biggest winner out of all this, despite having no chance of becoming PM!

Now that the unthinkable has happened, and the three main party leaders have agreed not just the principle but the detail of the forthcoming leaders’ debates, we really are in uncharted territory for British politics.

What’s going to make it so interesting is that front and centre of this campaign is going to be the concept of “but he looks like a Prime Minister!”.

Yes, charisma, personality and confidence have always been a part of politics, no more so than when delivering Tony Blair a stonking great victory in 1997. But we are nowhere near the level of the USA, where, on reflection, it was Barack Obama’s cool and cerebral performance in the Presidential Debates, especially the first one where John McCain made himself look like a grumpy old man, that secured his position as a dead cert to win.

In American politics, however, it makes much more sense. They are electing a Head of State as well as a Head of Government. Heads of State are the figurehead of the country, projecting their own image not just just nationally, but internationally. In turn, the nation and the world can “see” the character and values of that country. As such, questions of whether someone “looks like a President” are fair game.

Here, less so. Although I am excited about the prospect of debates, and judging by this document, the conditions set down will ensure no cheap lines to get the applause of the audience, I am concerned that they will become all encompassing, and mean everything else in the campaign matters little. Hopefully we’ll still get the probing 30 minute Paxman interview on Newsnight for each of the contenders. Sky News will want to do the same, I’m sure.

But most of all, I am worried that unless the debates are truly focused on policies and vision for Britain, we are going to hear a lot more about whether David Cameron “looks like a Prime Minister”.

We’ve had enough of politics being trivialised and reduced to the lowest common denominator in this country. It’s been a bad couple of years, yes, but not so bad as to completely sell out our system to soap opera style bickering and televised chat shows.

If that’s going to happen, we might as well have Jeremy Kyle as the debate moderator…

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One Response to “Looking Prime Ministerial”

  1. […] can hardly be surprised, what with the election debates and all that. Indeed, when I look back at this post I wrote when the news first broke than the debates would definitely be happening, I now feel quite […]

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