The Futility Monster

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

(Belatedly) Asking The Chancellors

Posted by The Futility Monster on March 31, 2010 @ 09:43

Vince got lucky to get the centre podium...

Because I was crazy busy on Monday, I spent Tuesday in catch up mode. One of these things included watching Monday’s excellent “Ask The Chancellors” debate on Channel 4.

I have a lot of time for Channel 4, in spite of their eternal quest for the yoof demographic that, by now, doesn’t give a shit for TV. But I have respect for them because, every now and then, they pull out a show of real quality, like this, even if it was watched by less than 2m people, while EastEnders, on at the same time, got at least 9m…

It was also a crafty piece of television. Channel 4, excluded from the Prime Ministerial Debates, got the second prize. After all, any show with Vince Cable in has to be worth watching. Better still, by getting in first, they have been able to set the bar for what the debates should be like. There’s no doubting that the rules of the Prime Ministerial Debates are going to make them much less engaging than this one.

My verdict on “who won” changed throughout the show. Partisan hacks on spent the entire show bashing whoever they hated the most; at times I wasn’t sure I was watching the same show as them.

But doing my best impression of a dispassionate observer, I thought a case could be made for all three of the participants. Alistair Darling was his usual self: dry, solid, dependable. He also fired a few salvos at George Osborne when he got the chance, which muddied the waters on tax and tax credit policy a little.

George Osborne, meanwhile, had a decent night. I can’t bring myself to say I could ever like him – there is just something about his demeanour that makes him feel untrustworthy – but in spite of that, he seemed on top of his brief, with plenty of good lines of attack to undermine Darling and the Labour government. He doesn’t “look” like a Chancellor, and probably never will, but sounded like he would be confident enough in the job.

Vince Cable was his usual self: affable, relaxed and clearly in command of his portfolio. In terms of apparent engagement with the audience on set, he was by far the most successful. And, as we know, people don’t always vote on policies. His actual performance was sharp, full of witty barbs and very honest, frequently the only one to directly answer the question.

Darling didn’t attack Vince all night. Perhaps he knew there wasn’t much point. Osborne got extra credit for being prepared to take on The Cable, and did his best impression of being ganged-up on, but Vince always had at least a decent response.

It probably isn’t a shock, then, for me to say that I think Vince “won”; I am a Lib Dem after all. But I like to think it doesn’t blind me. I genuinely think Vince just edged the night, but the other two did very well. Especially George Osborne, who withstood and deflected attacks from the Darling-Cable tag team.

In terms of what effect it has on the voters, it was probably minimal. But it was good spectator sport, and for those of us who enjoy politics, a very tantalising appetiser for what’s on the way.


One Response to “(Belatedly) Asking The Chancellors”

  1. Peter Reynolds said

    A very fair summing up. Even for a LibDem! As a rabid Tory I was very pleasantly surprised by Georgey boy but, like you, I wouldn’t trust him with any of my toys and certainly none of my secrets.

    Vince certainly has all the right answers and goes straight to the top of the class.

    We can both agree that Alistair was, as usual, dull and boring zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

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