Thursday, 15 April 2010
Election Debate 1
Is this like the Big Brother House where one gets thrown out each time? It plays a little like that. I don't think I learned anything I didn't already know, unless it was something about Nick Clegg and a few details of LibDem policy, so, in that sense, he must have won. He won primarily by being there.
In one way I loathed the whole exercise but it was, nevertheless, fascinating for all kinds of loathsome reasons.
Q: Why loathsome?
A: Because it is fascinating.
Q: In what way fascinating?
A: It's the old tension between the spurious and the authentic.
Q: Spurious? How so?
A: In the most complex way. It is clear that there are lines to follow, attitudes to strike, key phrases to be pushed, manners of addressing one of the six publics, that is to say: the camera, the audience, the questioner, the master of ceremonies and the other two leaders. So you wonder what remains that is not synthetic. At the same time you are aware this is not a beauty contest or a talent show. It is about government, policy, values - in other words lines, attitudes, key phrases. This is confusing. And spurious.
Q: In what way authentic?
A: They really are the leaders. They really are soliciting our votes. The issues they are addressing are real issues. And yet...
Q: And yet?...
A: Speeches in parliament are one thing. Speeches at party meetings are another. Speeches on the hustings and at public meetings are yet another. I have learned how to read those. I trust those forums. Television is something else. It is something I have learned not to trust. Nick Clegg's naturalness was perhaps the least natural thing. And, frankly, it is not Nick Clegg's naturalness I want to be thinking of.
Q: Will you watch the next debate?
A: Give me time on that.