Thursday night, I watched the second debate on Sky News. I watched for the whole 90 minutes, as compared to the 30 minutes last time (because, frankly, there was a DVD I wanted to watch and in the balance it was preferable to watch that rather than three men yapping). I listened intently and watched each of the contenders as they put forward their points. I watched them as they stood and listened to their opponents, scribbling thoughtful notes on their lecterns. I listened to the banter and the blather, the spin and the patter.
Whereas Clegg steamed ahead last time – engaging the audience and putting forward his policies in a positive light; this time, everyone seemed to be loving the camera. Mind, Cameron and Brown seemed to overdo it – heck, David’s stare became unsettlingly to witness. In the to-and-fro of the debate, Gordon and Nick made David look like an amateur. The Conservative leader positively struggled at times and when his chance came to bite back or cut someone dead with a witty snipe, he stumbled. To Nick, “Your reminding me of Gordon the other week. It’s like… er… er… another replay.” What?! It’s like a what, David.
The election debates have added a significant new dimension to the competition, allowing each leader to represent the views of his party while stood in the spotlight of media and viewer attention. Each leader faces the scrutiny of the public and his peers, genuinely testing their skills as politicians, speakers and champions of policy. I have found the process increasingly engaging – and no one has any excuse not to be tuning in (given that each debate has been broadcast or repeated on satellite TV, terrestrial TV, radio and online). I listened incredulously to people complaining about the second debate being on Sky News, but BBC2 showed it later that evening and Radio 4 had live coverage – even without the satellite or internet, you didn’t have an excuse not to have access to it.
I believe it was General Dannatt who told news reports that not voting in this General Election made light of the struggle and sacrifice by the armed forces in the Middle East. If soldiers put their lives on the line for us, each of us can at least get off our arses and get down the polling booths on May 6th (or drop by the letter box for postal votes).
I know my own mind and intend fully to vote – I exercise my right to vote now as I have every time since I was old enough… and I’m looking forward to seeing how this General Election pans out.