Debate prediction

I predict the debate will be dull thanks to the format agreed,with each spokesman avoiding major error. I am not expecting much difference as a result.
What matters is what each party intends to do – there is more to be teased out of each manifesto.

Promotoed by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU


  1. English Pensioner
    April 15, 2010

    I won't be watching. The debate has been sanitised, and the questions that I want answered are unlikely to be asked (Immigration, the EU and getting rid of this country's debt, not just the deficit). I wonder what the viewing figures will be?

    In any event, our Tory MP has already been chosen by the local elite in the party and although I will vote UKIP it is unlikely to dent his majority, so he has no need to listen to people like me.

  2. alan jutson
    April 15, 2010

    What needs to be driven home tonight is that "deficit" is not the same as "national debt".

    By only cutting by 50% the deficit over 5 years, we are still increasing the National debt by extraordinary amounts.

    Its like having a credit card debt, still spending on a monthly basis, but only paying off less than half of what you spend each month.
    The total debt increases month by month until the card company force you to stop spending anything more.

    About time someone spelt this out in detailed terms.

    Labour are trying/have given the impession, that by simply halving the deficit, things are all Ok when really the opposite is true. It will only end when the credit card company (read IMF) says enough is enough, then the real problems of overspending will come home to roost in a huge way.

    1. Simon
      April 16, 2010

      Mandelson has already said that there is "no shame calling in the I.M.F. for what is a global problem" .

      The I.M.F. isn't some white knight riding in to save us , more like a grubby doorstep lender trying to extract payment in kind from your wife .

      Taking money from the I.M.F. entails further loss of sovereignty – no wonder Mandelson and his NWO friends are so keen on it .

      1. Lindsay McDougall
        April 16, 2010

        So follow the arguement where it leads. Let us just stop contributing to the I.M.F.

  3. Antisthenes
    April 15, 2010

    I anticipate that the electorate will watch and listen with avid disinterest to the policies only hoping for some mega cock up to lighten the proceedings. They will all go away claiming their chap won. If there is an outright winner then that will be the one who utters the most claptrap and tells the most barefaced lies so that will be a toss up between Brown and Clegg, however on past form Brown must be the favourite.

  4. Matt
    April 15, 2010

    What I miss are the long forensic interviews that Brian Walden conducted on Weekend World all those years ago.

    Walden had the time and the tenacity to delve and bring out the furthest reaches of policy. The questions were often a lot longer than the answers, but there was a lot of substance there.
    Poorly thought out policies were exposed.

    Now you tend to get a blitz of questions often just skimming the surface, as when Sky’s Adam Boulton at the launch of the Labour manifesto asked Mr Brown about the cost of a hospital being £600m, but with PFI was going to be about £2bn. Mr Brown just didn’t answer, but spoke to the faithful over the reporters heads.

    1. Mike Fowle
      April 15, 2010

      Too right, Matt. Walden allowed his interviewee time to answer fully, listened to what he or she had to say and then went back and analysed it and sought clarification or pointed out the flaws in the case made. I remember vividly the interview with Tony Blair just after he had announced that he would be tough on crime (a radical policy for the left). By the end of the interview you could see that Blair was a charming but shallow figure. It is one of the reasons I was never caught up in the May 1997 celebrations.

    2. Jmaes Clover
      April 15, 2010

      Absolutely right. There are no in depth interviews now, and the replies are too often interrupted by rude interviewers who are just anxious to prove how tough and ruthless they are, though in fact they lack the subtlety to tease out the truth and allow the interviewee to reveal their real shallowness or depth.

  5. Mike Fowle
    April 15, 2010

    I won't be watching on principle. I am probably naively clinging to the past but I shall be voting for an MP at the election, member of a party certainly, but hopefully one with his own judgment. The steady move towards a President in this country is wrong. If I did watch, there really ought to be a fibometer at the bottom of the screen – especially when Brown is speaking.

  6. Steve Cox
    April 15, 2010

    This is an unwelcome import from America. I for one won't bother watching. You will learn nothing new of any substance. The best anyone can hope for is that one of the three stumbles or slips up, in which case the relevant supporting press will trumpet "Triumph, as XXX slips up!". Yawn. It's going to be boring and pointless, and should not be a part of the British democratic process, certainly not in its current form. Everyone knows that Gordon Clown refuses point blank to answer any questions, so what is the point?

  7. Acorn
    April 15, 2010

    Gordon Brown Bans Volcanic Ash & Cancels TV Election Debate. LATEST: Iceland demands 'cash for ash'. Go and have a laugh, we have got another three weeks of this.

    1. Acorn
      April 15, 2010

      It is doubtful that the debate will get to the detail of our national debt. Or that many viewers will understand the difference between the budget deficit and the national debt. But, Redwoodians are above average so, if JR allows, can I suggest a read of the following. Keep in mind that the author is one of the "bullion boys"; a bit of a doom monger. But, the numbers are worth thinking about. National debt owed in foreign currencies is the flavour of the moment on economic blogs. These are the debts the government can't inflate away, unlike its own pound Stirling debts.

  8. gac
    April 15, 2010

    I shall not be watching as the whole thing is a made-for-TV charade.

    Nobody representing Scotland where Policing, Education, Health etc is devolved, and Brown is asking his constituents to re-elect him on an 'English' manifesto.

    Nobody representing Wales where Plaid is a major player nor NI where none of tonights leaders have candidates standing yet the programme will be transmitted to those places.

    Ah, I can hear one say – but it would be a fiasco if all minor parties, such as UKIP with 500 candidates and the Greens with c 300, were to take part. True! which is why it is a charade that they are not there taking questions.

    But the TV demandeth and the TV getteth and we are stuck with the result – proverbs according to gac!

  9. Kenneth Morton
    April 15, 2010

    Gordon Brown is 59 and, by appearance, not a very fit 59. The few pictures that I have seen in the press of him exercising suggest that he will be struggling to cope with the physical demands of the ninety minute debates. By contrast, Cameron and Clegg are young and fit.

    Certainly Brown will not be able to behave as he does at PMQs, chatting with a colleague and pretending that the criticism is not hurting. He will not be happy having to listen to his opponents and not being able to react immediately

    Somewhere in the three debates the facade of calm detachment will slip and the true Brown will emerge, not a very pleasant image. This will be the moment that will always be remembered when the 2010 Election was won and lost.

  10. John
    April 15, 2010

    I believe the TV audience will be much smaller that all the hyper-excited media pundits seem to think it will be, and the 2nd & 3rd will get utterly miserable audiences.

    ITV were on fine form this evening. Having lathered on about the importance of the debates, the size of the audience, and how it will shape the future of the country, they then went straight to a piece in a marginal constituency and rabbited on about how the small group of people in Alton would decide the election. "Fine" I thought; if they're going to decide it then let them watch the debate because clearly the media (if not the politicians) are only going to be speaking to the 2% of marginal electors anyway.

    In what I assume what a subtle display of comedy from the ITN team we were treated to an interview a voter who was enthusiastically waiting for the debate. Apparently she was a single mother on benefits who reckoned what she was getting wasn't enough and was waiting to see who was going to do something for her. I hope she doesn't hold her breath this evening.

    This whole debate thing is a pointless, infantalising sham. If Gordon Brown refuses to answer a straight question at PMQ for the past 3 years then why should I assume he will be any different in a TV debate? Cameron will continue to peddle low risk, meaniingless soundbites and Clegg will continue to have the impact of a glass of water.

    Immediately afterwards we (apparently) need to cut over to ITV2 to see "who won" with the marginal voters who marry so much. Frankly I wonder why the rest of us should even bother turning out at all.

    There is, of course, a serious point to be made. Both our political and media classes have decided to bombard us with an endless torrent of dumbed down soundbite policies restricted to the length of a nine-year old's attention span. Both groups are so busy presenting that they are ruining political discourse and democracy.

    As a voter who tries to take an interest in politics and cares for the future of our country I am already reaching the point of despair. Our future is going to be determined in the form of a ghastly game show. The only thing that's missing is Piers Morgan and his buzzer.

  11. Mike Stallard
    April 15, 2010

    I will be watching, hoping against hope that the appalling Nick Clegg trips over and has to be carried off on a stretcher.

  12. Socrato
    April 16, 2010

    Hi JR,

    I went on to see the Labour manifesto on youtube. I listened with interest and decided to post extensive comments on the page under the name swamiization. In the US for example there is an organisation which fact checks everything that politicians say. This is my meagre attempt at the same. Much as dislike giving airtime to the labour manifesto – i feel the comments, particularly on the apportionment of Brown's responsibility during the build up of the credit bubble, put the video and his claim to have the credentials required, to make the big decisions, into some more balanced perspective. I post the link for anyone interested.

  13. Robert George
    April 16, 2010

    Very boring. How on earth with the mountain of so called media skills were the Tories and Labour so foolish as to give the Lib dems a 3 way.

    Brown and Cameron continued to disguise the ugly truths and Clegg said anything the public wanted. I’m sick of the lot of them and sick of being treated like a half wit.

    Zero substance from zero men.

  14. Lindsay McDougall
    April 16, 2010

    Well, I've cheated and waited until after the first debate before responding. It was a pleasant surprise, although by the end Gordon Brown was in goad and diversion mode, trying to generate heat rather than light.

    David Cameron missed a trick, though, as has the whole Conservative Party. Now that the manifestos are out, we can prove that none of the Labour, LibDem and Green parties is going to deal with the deficiit in a single parliament. To oversimplify slightly, each will halve the deficit in real terms by 2014/15, leaving it at roughly the size of the Major/Patten/Lamont deficit of 1992/93. In each case, debt interest per annum will more than double. The differences are:

    Labour: tax receipts will rise at more than 4% per annum for 5 straight years. Public expenditure flat – debt interest up, current expenditure flat, capital expenditure down (Source: 2010 Budget Report)

    LibDems: their manifesto gives a lot more detail on tax changes and expenditure cuts, but I suspect that the aggregate figures are similar to Labour's. Certainly, they agree with Labour's do nothing policy for 2010/11.

    Greens: keep public expendiure rolling along and raise taxes steadily to reduce the deficit, with the total tax take rising to 45% of GDP by 2014/15 (Source: Green Party manifesto launch). Try shouting that 45% figure from the Brighton rooftops, Caroline, and watch your poll lead disappear.

    The Conservative Party is the only party capable of eliminating the entire annual deficit within one parliament. This is a tremendous plus point.

  15. William Grace
    April 16, 2010

    John, do you agree with your fellow down the road and his responce to this lady who is home educating a child with autism? – Labour seems to like the idea? But it seems you guys don't.

    Reply: I favour better services to tackle autism and will work for that locally and nationally. I will take up any particular case where there is the need for more support, as I find each case is usually a bit different and needs individual attention.

  16. Winston's Black
    April 17, 2010

    The debates as constituted are frankly a waste of time.

    None of Labour, Liberal or Conservative want to discuss the Elephant In The Room, namely the EU, which determines anything from 50% to 80% of UK Law (depending on whose figures you accept) with the elected UK Parliament thereby being rendered impotent.

    Whether you agree or disagree with their viewpoint UKIP is the one party offering an alternative to EU dictatorship and, given that the Party came second in the recent EU elections, it makes a farce of democracy to exclude Farage or Pearson from the debate.

    However Brown, Cameron and Clegg all endorse EU dictatorship and hate democracy don't they? So no surpprise really.

  17. cheap ghd
    May 7, 2010

    If there is an outright winner then that will be the one who utters the most claptrap and tells the most barefaced lies so that will be a toss up between Brown and Clegg, however on past form Brown must be the favourite.

  18. rolex daytona
    May 27, 2010

    In any event, our Tory MP has already been chosen by the local elite in the party and although I will vote UKIP it is unlikely to dent his majority, so he has no need to listen to people like me

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