Yesterday, we watched the last big TV debate before next Thursday’s general elections. For those not from the UK: The debate featured the three biggest parties’ leaders, Gordon Brown for Labour, David Cameron for the Conservatives and Nick Clegg for the Liberal Democrats. Other than playing on a very anti-politics idea that I find deeply anti-democratic (complaining about parties criticising each other and saying that all will have to work together to fight the crisis), the latter had the most progressive agenda of all, clearly opposing tax cuts for the rich, bankers’ bonuses and (rather defensively) arguing for a conditioned amnesty for illegal immigrants. He is also the only of the three candidates to oppose the nuclear submarine programme Trident, probably the biggest currently planned UK investment in arms.
Whilst the debate itself was not too bad, the questions posed by the audience were often quite arguing from a right-wing position, i.e. what are you going to do about the problem that people pay ‘more and more’ taxes, how are you going to tackle ‘welfare abuse’ and all that sort of stuff. Most annoying was however how BBC made the debate even less political, by not only interviewing people from all parties claiming their candidate had ‘won’ the debate, but also ‘experts’ who for example explained that the instant reactions of the audience to Cameron’s rant about the LibDems amnesty plans were negative because people didn’t like politicians attack each other. Don’t even consider they may have disapproved Cameron making his election campaign on the back of people living and working in the UK without being able to claim basic human rights.
Surprising again how blatantly politicians choose not to answer questions that have been asked to them but rather go off on the next random topic that occurs to them. Interesting to see how things go on next week – especially since I am living in one of the few constituencies where another than the three parties represented at the debate has a chance to win: The Green Party sees Norwich south as one of the three seats they might win – and given they came first in regional and european elections here lately, this isn’t too unrealistic. Without any representation in parliament, the Greens in the UK are somewhat more progressive than their German peers, for instance on taxation, public services, or anti-war positions. Getting some of them into the next parliament would definitely be an interesting development.