So the first of a series of televised events in the lead up to the election took place last night. Cameron was suave and predictable, coasting along on the dignity of office and his natural charisma. Miliband had a much more up and down performance, going through bouts of word vomit but coming across as more human and having a sense of humour even when being jabbed with frankly personal questions that were irrelevant to a political interview. Though the winner here was definitely Paxman.
Let me just clear up now, I’m going to be biased here as I’m a Labour Party member and volunteer, as much as I try to avoid it.
Let me be clear, I have a great deal of respect for the man, I’ve even read one of his books. He’s the king of nailing down evasive politicians and has done some great interviews in the past. He brought to light a few promises Cameron had not kept that even I didn’t know about as well as actually got an answer out of him on the matter of the mystery welfare cuts. However his attacks on Ed’s character reflect the behaviour of 5 years of tabloid childishness, something I had until now felt was beneath him. Of course, this is coming from a guy who has a real distaste for personality politics and worries these upcoming debates will just be a battle of memorised sound bites from party leaders on each issue.
My worry, at least in part was this was not totally impartial. Both presenters and the station involved being right leaning and the conduct towards Ed would seem to indicate that may be at play. But again, as I said, I’m hardly unbiased and this may be the rose tinted glasses talking. And of course, Paxman went out with the intent with hitting these leaders weak points, Cameron’s being broken promises and being that Ed wasn’t standing in 2010, the mistakes of New Labour and his personality gave Paxman his angle of attack.
My point is, this set the tone for the rest of the election and it certainly seems that it won’t be anything special in terms of being free from petty squabbling and mudslinging. Though in fairness, these people work in Parliament, a place with less decorum than my very own politics classroom.
But to be clear, ICM’s instant poll called it for Cameron which was expected but it was closer than predicted which is apparently a victory in itself for the Labour Party. I personally am happy the public got to see a less airbrushed Ed Miliband and the Conservatives so far proudly touted sublime record as been professionally besmirched for all to see. Hopefully this election was play host to an approach to substance over style for once and we’ll have real debate or real and serious issues … but I’m not holding my breath.