Thursday, 15 April 2010

Election debates reaction

I watched the first of the election debates on TV this evening, which turned out to be mostly fairly interesting. I started flagging towards the end when it seemed like the the candidates were constantly repeating themselves, and avoiding the actual question asked even more flagrantly than earlier. I appreciate that the questions were chosen as jumping-off points to discuss more general areas, but some specific questions were completely ignored (such as the health question that specifically referred to the problems of an ageing population; not one of them tackled that question).

I don’t particularly feel that any particular leader “won” the debate. Brown and Cameron spent a lot of time sniping at each other, but Clegg felt a little smarmy to me, as Cameron put it at one point, holier than thou. The habit that all of them had of repeating their core points over and over given the remotest opportunity didn’t particularly help with it. And neither did the fact that many of the questions didn’t have a huge amount of bearing on me, given that policy for health, education and many other areas is devolved (although there will be another debate with the Scottish leaders next week).

The first question, on immigration, made me somewhat uncomfortable with the really “tough” talk by Brown and Cameron saying that there’s too much immigration into this country without, I felt, really recognising the complicated nature of the issue or the positive effect that the different waves of migration have had to Britain over the centuries. Clegg was the only one who recognised that different parts of the country had different needs and would implement a more flexible system, whereby there could be different immigration levels allowed in different parts of the country, to regulate the flow a little – for example, I understand that without immigration Scotland would be in danger of becoming rapidly underpopulated. Cameron and Brown seemed very focussed on the south east of England, where there perhaps is too much immigration for the system to cope with.

So, nothing that really made me change how I’m going to vote, but it did perhaps clarify some of the positions of the different parties on a range of issues. I may have to watch the debate for the Scottish leaders next week to get a better idea of how things will affect me up here, since so many issues are devolved to the Scottish Parliament and I will certainly watch the other debates.

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