Welcome back to the blog that doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase ‘after the fact’. I fully intended to write this and upload this the day after last week’s historic (and yeah it was historic, a lot of history is boring) televised debate but fate conspired against me. I had all kinds of important catchy-uppy things to do before I flew back off to the other side of the world on Monday. But then the sky exploded or something. I don’t know, I think it was the smoke monster from Lost’s bigger brother or the Avengers were having an epic three-issue battle over Iceland or something more exciting. Incidentally, similar to how people reckon they found demon faces or whatever in the cloud of smoke when the World Trade Centre fell, I managed to find a hidden message after studying pictures of the volcano smoke. I’ve highlighted it below.
Fascinating. Anyway there’s nowhere near enough on Icelandic ash clouds to write a whole entry so you’ll have to make do with debate and election nonsense. The first ever British election debate was held on ITV last Thursday night. One and a half hours of arguing, promising and no decision-making. As promised, I did actually watch the debate with my mum, my dad, my laptop and a good deal of cider. With the second debate airing on Sky tonight this has become timely again so now is as good a time as any to post this entry. After a week my notes make significantly less sense than they did at the time but here we go, I’ll include Mum’s interjections along the way because they’re pretty funny.
– We hit a good note to start with as the show opening makes me almost cry with laughter at how much like the X Factor this both looks and sounds like. There’s a wry comment in there somewhere about the general apathy and stupidity of the average ITV prime time viewer but I’m afraid I’ll be legitimately crying if I think too much about it. On to the opening remarks.
– Nick Clegg (huh so that’s what he looks like) starts off by tearing the crap out of Brown and Cameron. It’s basically ‘these guys suck. Love me!’ C-, must try harder.
– Gordon Brown (who still needs to sort out that distracting jaw thing and requested to stand to the right of the centre camera so his lack of eye wouldn’t be so off-putting) says something about a double dip. Either he’s promising us all a sherbet dip or double penetration if the election goes wrong. Sounds interesting, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. C+, doesn’t play well with others.
– David Cameron (who is a twat) apologises which is a nice start but then goes on to make a vague reference to ‘good things’ the Labour party has done and he would keep them. Erm, good? He also calls the expenses row, or the story that will not die, a ‘saga’. I wholeheartedly agree. A bunch of grey-haired cynics milking an expenses system for all its worth and droning on endlessly about it on talk shows and tea-time news broadcasts for a year on British television? The Vikings couldn’t have done better! C, needs to stop messing around to improve his grades this year.
– Point one is Immigration and if you didn’t see the show then you can accurately recreate the experience by having two of your uncles bicker about say a problem with a car’s engine while another uncle repeatedly shouts ‘Chaos!’ at random intervals. Clegg seems to enjoy the way his voice sounds saying this word so much he decides to go for the land speed chaos-saying record. Better not keep doing things like that mate (Spoiler: he does).
– Brown manages to get away with a number of references to the ID card system without either of the other two challenging him on it. Clegg was in Cardiff recently, I can believe that, it’s a terribly boring place and he’s a terribly boring man. Also it’s chaos. Chaos! Cameron says he met a black man. No you did not Dave, shut up. He then attempts a joke along with a little smile at the camera and the one drink I’ve had demands to come back up again. It was like that guy at a party who tells a joke to a whole group of people and no one laughs and you all squirm and wince at each other. Yeah like that but on national TV.
– On the subject of Law and Order Clegg makes record time in trotting out that ‘bobbies on the beat’ crap they all spew out. Cameron’s notes appear to be headlines from the Daily Express as all people who steal cars are drug addicts. No grey areas! Woo! Brown fails to impress in this segment.
– Nick Clegg is really worrying me as he seems to be going back to the same stock phrases and words over and over. Mainly ‘colleges of crime’ and ‘hardened criminals of tomorrow’ as if when he read them he thought ‘wow those are really good’ and now can’t stop himself from saying them. He doesn’t seem to have a lot in the bank.
– Brown gets in a sick burn on Cameron for his advertising campaign which has done more for getting a picture of Brown smiling across the media than his own government has. Seriously wanted the crowd to be all ‘DAAAAAMN’.
– Oh god here we go, the expenses row. They all shake their heads and sulk and pretend their parties had nothing to do with it.
– Dad says how every policy and idea is a knee-jerk reaction around election time and not to trust any of them. Mum asks why they can’t all just put their heads together and ‘just shape up’. I’m stumped for an answer. She’s also getting pissed at Clegg’s repetition. I’m with her.
– Education and I am rapidly running out of attention already. Something about bureaucracy, micro-managing or something. I don’t know. Brown says all schools should be good schools. NAW! Really want this to devolve into a political ‘yo mamma’ contest. ‘Mr Cameron, your mother’s arse is the size of the national deficit.’ ‘Mr Brown, your mother is like the average classroom size, ever-expanding and the kids at the back are suffocating.’ (Eh?)
– Aaaaaaaaand economy time (after watching Idiocracy I’ve decided to only refer to is as ‘the comony’ from now on) and Cameron is repeatedly bashing out the family man card. Did you know his son died? If you didn’t he’d be happy to remind your four or five times.
– Right so I actually don’t want to keep bashing Nick Clegg but he isn’t doing himself any favours here. He keeps stammering and repeating himself and although it wouldn’t be too noticeable in conversation, compared to Cameron and Brown it’s coming off like amateur hour every time he opens his gob.
– Er I got bored and went for a brownie, don’t seem to have missed anything.
– Perhaps a drinking game for tonight: every time the word ‘economy’ is mentioned take a drink, every time Cameron is interrupted take two, every time Clegg repeats himself take a drink (Mum replies to this last one with ‘you’d be fucked by the first half hour.’)
– A man from the TA in the audience calls the three leaders ‘guys’. You just called the future leader of the country guy. Go wait outside. He brings up the military point and Dad asks why Nick Clegg says ‘I’ instead of ‘we’ when he discusses his party’s intentions. That is a little troubling. Mum wonders if the three guys would get on if they met at a drinks party complete with impressions of the three of them meeting. They apparently need to ‘shape their bloody ord selves’. Thinking of getting her to write a manifesto…
– Brown mans up about the war and don’t think I don’t notice him laying the groundwork for Pakistan to be next. Cameron rightly calls him on his bullshit over Afghanistan but Brown isn’t backing down on this one. I could just watch this bit for like half an hour.
– The nuclear question surfaces and is spluttered over without anything meaningful said. Cameron reminds me why I hate him by saying ‘7/7’.
– I should have put money on which topics would be offered by the audience because the next one is from a nurse on the subject of the NHS and healthcare in general. Cameron kisses her arse.
– Clegg actually seems to be going to town here like ‘Seriously, I know how to fix this, want to hear?’ but our compere cuts him off halfway through. Nice move dick.
– On the subject of care for the elderly Clegg mentions how it’s bigger than the three of them and some issues need them all to put their ideas together. That’s what mum said… is my mother a political genius?
– The fact that none of them have an answer is seriously brought up a number of times. Nice. That’s what we need in election time, total honesty. Just an hour and a half of Cameron, Brown and Clegg shrugging at the camera.
– Clegg: Reads the names of all the people who presented questions off his cards. He tells us we need to say no to the old party system and yes to a brand new completely useless bunch. Unfortunately he doesn’t do much to convince me that just because he wears a different colour tie, his party would do any better than the incumbent one. He preaches fairness, difference, chocolate boxes, puppies, flowers, nice things, bollocks.
– Brown: Basically calls us all morons. I feel like I’m being told off by the headteacher. He talks up the importance of avoiding the mistakes from the ‘30s and ‘80s. The National Insurance rise is key to his comments as he goes off on Cameron again for not giving guarantees before declaring he looks forward to the next debate and he probably means it too. He looked like he was about to finish up with ‘come have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ and in all fairness he came across smooth and defiant this night.
– Cameron: Calls the party exciting and optimistic. The two words that always spring to mind when one considers the Conservative party. Values are as important as policies (errrr no they aren’t), change, leadership, all that good stuff.
– And we’re out.
If I’m to be brutally honest I have to say the thing that upset me most about last week’s debate is that I didn’t have enough o take the piss out of. Everyone was smooth and impressive and well-trained for this broadcast. Two generations of Hetherington with a lot of differences in their personal politics all came to the conclusion that Brown embarrassed himself the least and at the end of the night came across as the one who knew most what he was on about. Imagine my dismay then, when ITV’s polls came in saying everyone though Nick Clegg had done marvellously. Excuse me? What debate was everyone else watching? Unless it’s not immediately obvious, in my eyes he looked like a blithering idiot attempting to square up to two candidates well above his weight and the underdog vote doesn’t count for much in national politics. I seriously can’t understand where it was he was supposed to have impressed. Facebook was alive with people’s thoughts on the show, which is really good, but half of them were comments on how excellent Clegg was. Within hours people were joining a Nick Clegg fan group, what the hell had happened?
I salute the Lib Dems for managing to give themselves the most positive media attention they’ve ever had but just because you don’t like the man who presided over the country at the same time as the world went tits up doesn’t mean you should dismiss everything he says and go for the most different one simply because he isn’t red or blue. That seemed to be exactly what the sample audience interviewed on ITV were doing. That seems pretty dangerous to me.
Well they get the chance to embarrass and unimpress us all over again tonight and I hope you’ll all watch with me and get that drinking game going. Leave your suggestions for rules in the comments section, we’re going to make politics interesting if it kills us! Now excuse me, I have to draft that press release for Madame Presidente Hetherington…