Review: Election Debate

Missed last night’s debate? Here’s what BAYAN PARVIZI has to say.

david cameron gordon brown itv Nick Clegg

Prime Ministerial Debate No1: ITV, 8.30pm 

They’ve been traipsing up and down the land, handling babies, animals, hospital staff, angry parents, the woman who slaps her bottom for ASDA and here we have it the first prime ministerial television debate in history. Not even an awesome cloud of Icelandic volcanic ash could keep Brown and Cameron (+Clegg) away from the studio in Manchester. The leaders are on the same stage for the first ever time (not even Tony could bring himself to do it) though there are over seventy rules governing tonight’s ceremonies. Over to you gents and Alaistair Stewart.

GB—Gordon Brown

DC—David Cameron

NC—Nick Clegg

20:28 Switch onto ITV1 to the echoes of Corrie ending—not long to go. The ginger girl who used to be fat has found out her boyfriend can be a teacher again and is not happy about it.

20:33 NC: looks a little alone without his twin Vince Cable, who we are led to believe is lost somewhere amidst the Icelandic plume. Undoubtedly someone’s Sky+ing it for posterity’s sake. GB doesn’t seem to have been able to get a red tie for tonight.

20:33 All three candidates look absolutely terrified “Should I nod to camera? Shouldn’t I?”

20:34 NC: “I believe the way things are not the way things need to be.”

GB: “These are no ordinary times and this is no ordinary election.” Gordon’s referring to his notes unlike the smooth NC and DC.

DC: “I think it’s great we’re having these debates and I hope they go someway in restoring faith in our politics.” Trying to present himself as the statesman.

20:37 Question 1: Immigration

20:38 GB: No chefs from outside the EU. Hardly a comprehensive policy.

DC: Limit on migration extra-EU and a points system to make immigration a non-issue as it was in the past.

NC: To send immigrants to places where they’re needed. Can you see people wanting to move to the Shetlands?

20:41 According to GB immigration is falling. DC gets his point across about immigration by passing on the thoughts of “a black man in Plymouth” who is also upset about the issue. Apparently NC was in a pediatric hospital where the lack of good immigrants meant it was not fully staffed.

20:46 GB starting to go for it interrupting DC on the immigration system. Over to NC it seems who is adamant about his regional immigration policy. GB cosying up to NC the old kingmaker—are they ganging up on DC?

20:48 Question 2: Law and Order.  Apparently Burnley is the most burgled city in the UK in excess of having a terrible football team.

DC is going for the “I spoke to x in y” Obama-style. “Got to get rid of the paperwork and bureaucracy and get the police out on the streets”.

20:50 NC is looking rather good, and GB gives us his first smile still no Nixon wiping of the brow. DC spinning it to a drug-related problem, apparently in his constituency in Oxfordshire there are drug issues. Hardly Lambeth!

20:55 NC refers to prisons as “colleges of crime” and he too Obama-style met a guy in London whose house was burgled while he was at his dad’s funeral. Where have you been GB? Oh right Reading. GB makes a terrible joke about Tory posters depicting a smiling Gordon he’s hardly a Frankie Boyle.

20:58 GO ON NC – hand out, interrupting DC. Whilst GB has become quite the stato; statistics this, statistics that.

21:00 Question 3: Expenses

NC sure to make it clear LibDems were not involved.

GB was “shocked and sickened” and once again he brings up his childhood as his moral framework, maybe his parents should stand for office.

DC MPs to be cut, Whitehall to be cut down by a third.

21:04 GB really making bridges with NC saying the LibDem leader agrees with him on electoral reform. DC’s being picked on and another set line from GB “David please no more hereditary peers”.

21:07 GB hangs his head in shame when DC reminds him Labour MPs still being investigated over expenses. 

21:08 GB makes a plea to NC over electoral reform but NC shoves him away. “Gordon says Nick agrees with Gordon, Nick says he doesn’t agree with Gordon” DC has gone for the statesman approach again rising above the petty political hubub. 

21:10 Alaistair no-one cares about the Welsh and Scottish debates.

Question 4: Education 

Joel from North London—come on boy!

21:12 Edgy ground for DC; one of his kids starting in a state school and one child to come – SamCam’s womb used for electoral gain? NC states his “education freedom act” to give schools more freedom. DC the compassionate Conservative is pushing for more discipline in schools. 

21:15 NC is coming across as a maverick asking Joel a question, which he admits is against the rules. 


21:18 DC’s brought in NI tax that will take money away from schools. GB challenges him for not committing to education spending. 

“The more they attack each other the more they sound the same” NC’s getting the hang of this lark

NC makes sure we know his children go to “excellent state schools” lucky for them.

21:21 Question 5: Budget Deficit and not damaging growth

DC “Save 6bn in the current year to stop the jobs tax” and the NI tax is a “recovery killer” He’s cracked out the 100 business leaders backing the Tory plans – GB saw it coming a mile off.

NC definitely going for the personal touch looking out for the questioner. “I don’t think we can justify or afford Trident over the next 25 years.”

GB sure to remind us the crisis is “global”. DC looks like he’s texting NC. 

DC “Cut the waste, stop the tax”—another set line methinks. 

21:25 NC says money won’t be saved by getting rid of “paperclips and pot-plants”.

21:27 GB sure to mention that he was at the forefront of the global effort “It’s important to take no risk with the recovery”.

“Who’s trying to be straight with you over the cuts?” NC apparently.

21:29 “Greedy banker in the city of London pays less tax on his wage than a cleaner” NC mouthing his partner Vince’s spiel. DC repeating himself, following in the footsteps of Lady Thatcher, comparing the government to a household and how savings need to be made.

21:30 DC starting to repeat himself mentioning business leaders backing the Tories. GB repeats himself on being at the forefront of the global effort. Broken record. NC joins in repeating his aversion to Trident.

21:32 Question 6: Equipment for the armed forces.

NC seems to be “scandalised” by everything. 

Everyone discussing how cuts have to be made no-one willing to say how it seems.

GB makes the obligatory salute to the troops but is rambling on for too long. You’re not at the Cenotaph Gordon.

DC pulling out the “where is the questioner?” tact. Also salutes the soldiers. Answer the question chaps.

21:37 GB “Why are we in Afghanistan?…Three quarters of our terrorist threats come from that region.”

21:39 NC looking for a review into what our defence needs are and that’s not Trident.

DC not so keen about giving up our nuclear trident with the Iranians, North Korea and China in the future. Chinese Ambassador’s not going to be happy with DC.

21:41 “World has moved on and you two need to move with it” a zinger by NC—putting himself forward as the new modern leader.

21:44 Question 8: Health

Alaistair seems determined to remind us of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Salmond must be salivating.

“Large numbers of people living longer and that’s a great thing” GB—is it really?

DC’s brings up what the NHS did for his family—no doubt a reference to his son Ivan. Making an issue of showing his commitment to the NHS. Stressing that he will make cancer drugs for all, a snipe to the Labour leaflets targeting cancer sufferers. 

21:46 NC’s woken up. And told us his third son was born in an NHS hospital.

21:48 “This is a phony debate” NC is taking every opportunity to distinguish himself from the others. Attacking DC over tax breaks for millionaires cut taxes for all and still spend. What no-one seems to address is that getting rid of all these public sector cuts we’re going to have tens of thousands of former civil servants unemployed.

21:51 DC “Stop the NI rise and use the money for cancer drugs” what money?—nothing gets past NC “How you going to do it?”

21:53 Both GB and NC are picking on DC now. Tory inheritance plans the new sword for the men in red and yellow.

21:54 Question 9: The Elderly

DC’s committing to free residential care for the 65+

The sentiment here is that this is a terrible question to end on.

DC “If carers stopped caring, carers for disabled children, it would cost us millions” A reference undoubtedly once again to his son Ivan who passed away with cerebral palsy; this is a topic close to both DC and GB as the PM’s son has cystic fibrosis.

“Care” has been mentioned at least several dozen times. 

NC “last question has brought about so much consensus” and commits to introduce “a new kind of politics”.

21:58 Closing statements.

NC: “I know many of you think all politicians are the same I hope I’ve showed you otherwise” though he thinks he’s going to gain our vote by remembering all the questioner’s names. Choice not just two parties who have been “playing pass the parcel over the last 65 years”. CHANGE

GB: “Thanks for staying with us and I know we’re not up against the X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent” oh no Gordon! FAIRNESS

DC: “Repeated attempts to frighten you about a Conservative government, choose hope over fear…if you work hard I’ll be behind, if you’re raising a family I’ll support you, if you’re ill I’ll look after you.” DC now hugs everyone it seems.

22:00 Credits rolling and GB takes the opportunity to shake the hands of members of the audience, NC and DC looking rather aloof on the daïs and decide to join in.

No great sweats. No fireworks. And Alaistair refrained from mentioning Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the first time tonight.

Our verdict is that NC came across very well, DC not as well as expected and GB far better than expected. What did you think? Don’t forget to keep up to date with all developments for our local election race here at The Tab.