Some commentators on last night’s Chancellors Debate have suggested that it lacked a bit of spark and drama – including, it must be said, my colleague Tony Dolphin (see 2 posts below).
No gaffes, no bombshells, no personal attacks – so no interest.
I beg to differ – here were serious issues being discussed in a serious way by serious politicians. Even the much criticised George Osborne seemed to rise to the occasion and to – by and large – engage constructively and effectively with his counterparts, Vince Cable – everyone’s idea of how a grown up politician should act– and Alistair Darling – whose reputation seems to be growing by the day. Without getting too dewy-eyed – or indeed po-faced – about it, this was just the sort of political debate that the country needs at this time.
There was point-scoring of course, but there were also plenty of points of agreement and a strong sense that the argument was constructive – and, yes, interesting. (All three seemed like decent, nice, sensible human beings as well – and when was the last time anybody said that about a group of politicians!) We the viewers were treated as adults up to the task of listening for an uninterrupted hour to informed debate about the country’s future. This is a high cry from the ridiculous pantomime of parliamentary exchanges, the inanity of so many studio discussions and the complete emptiness of Piers Morgan style ‘lifestyle’ interviews.
Can we dare to hope that the spin doctors, the strategists and tacticians, the rebuttal units and ad agencies – and yes the party leaders - will reflect on last night’s low key, but fascinating debate and think: Hey! How about having a serious, constructive, instructive campaign?