BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Impressions will be vital in leaders' debate

Nick Robinson | 00:41 UK time, Thursday, 15 April 2010

Spare a thought for messers Brown and Cameron and Clegg this morning. They've been told again and again that their performance under the hot studio lights in Britain's first ever prime ministerial debate could change not just their fortunes, but the course of history.

The rehearsals with stand in candidates are at an end. The role of American advisors flown in specially has finished too. Soon, they will be on their own. The hype is inevitable, given that it's taken half a century since America's first presidential debate, to stage an equivalent here.

There is more though than the Atlantic that separates our two political systems. Presidential candidates are often barely known to American voters, British prime ministerial contenders are very familiar to us though. With one exception of course - Nick Clegg receives a huge boost tonight by being given equal billing with Gordon Brown and David Cameron. How they treat him and he treats them, may be as significant as the predictable focus on the soap opera of who has the winning put down or the losing grimace, when the three men who want to prime minister take to the stage tonight at the home of Coronation Street.

Just like a gripping episode of Corrie, the nation's verdict will come not from the pundits and the commentators, but in the days to come, in canteens, coffee shops and pubs, the length and breadth of the land.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Nick:

    Impressions are always important and vital during a debate; Because the audiences both watching the debate LIVE and the viewers that are watching it at home...Want to know what substance the Political leaders are going to talk about....

    (Dennis Junior)

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nick Clegg has three advantages.

    1. He, as you say is given equal billing. (Shame about the lack of SNP/PC participation, but it's really the English debate and bot the British one.)

    2. Nick Clegg has no history of failure in government. Gordon Brown's failures are many and varied. He's a past master. David Cameron as part of the pre-1997 government (but in fairness, he was hardly in charge of things back then).

    3. Nick Clegg has the most to gain and the least to lose, and if you're a realist he won't govern the country after May 6th, and as such I predict that his performances will be less strained and more relaxed. Kind of like Portsmouth FC's performances since relegation. They might as well enjoy themselves.

  • Comment number 4.

    The Liberal Democrats lied in their 2005 manifesto about wanting a referendum on the EU Constitution, and Nick Clegg was (see link) very much part of that deceit. 

    https://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/oct/15/politicalcolumnists.eu

    Indeed i would suggest that Nick Clegg and his colleagues in the so-called “Liberal Democratic” party do not even know what liberal democracy is. The founders of the American nation-state for example were real liberal democrats. Jefferson and Madison believed that only basic issues of liberty (e.g. human rights) should be put beyond the reach of the democratic majority, as set out in a separate body of constitutional law (e.g. the Bill of Rights) or international law that the short-term majority in the legislature could not touch. 

    Nick Clegg and his fellow European federalists in the so-called Liberal Democrats believe that the undemocratic political zone should be far larger, encompassing all the general matters of politics that we used to decide in general elections but which are off-limits in this election because of the real elephant in the room - the EU. Increasingly these matters are being put beyond the reach of our votes in the form of a superior body of European law which only ever grows in size, all the time pre-empting national law and our very ability to elect a parliament capable of enacting legislation that does not overlap with that of Brussels. The inevitable long-term consequence of European integration is to shrink the arena within which democratic politics operates towards nothing, negating the very concept of liberal democracy itself. Clegg has been part of the political elite that is subverting our liberal democracy and reducing the scope of our elections to the ever dwindling list of issues that are not yet decided in Brussels. There will be no restoration of trust in the British political system until the full powers of Westminster to decide the law we live under are taken back from Brussels, and that most certainly is not of offer in Clegg’s 2010 manifesto.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'll be interested to see what the viewing figures are.

  • Comment number 6.

    The only thing you need to know about this TV debate is that it is limited to identikit LibLabCon politicians. Clegg said 'fair' so many times in his manfesto launch that you might think his party's slogan is 'a future fair for all'. Don't vote for any of the LibLabCon because they are all part of the same poitical elite that pushes power to Brussels and ensures that our elections can decide less and less and less. They want you to believe this election is about tax because that is one of the handful of areas still decided by Westminister. Meanwhile 'fiscal union' is the main topic under discussion in Brussels. Vote for the future of your vote by rejecting the LibLabCon.

  • Comment number 7.

    As well as 'equal billing' for Nick Clegg on the three Debate stages, I think a large proportion of the usually 'red' or 'blue' UK voters will be aware that, on this occasion, the Lib-Dem's stance may well have a very important influence on the future running of the Country! So, Nick Clegg's input may prove paramount. . . .

  • Comment number 8.

    As someone who is an American, I think the debates in Britain have been set up without forethought.

    https://lookingacrosstheatlantic.blogspot.com/2010/04/leaders-are-preparing-deeply-for-first.html

  • Comment number 9.

    Impressions are very important, I'm hoping for a good Frank Spencer from Dave Cameron.

    I thought Vince Cable's impression of a Chancellor at the last debate was pretty damn good, whereas George Osborne's was highly unconvincing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9J-vYyNdO4

  • Comment number 10.

    Most used phrase of the night will be "Tough Decisions"
    I'd say it will used about 80 times.

    What those tough decisions are will be explained 0 times

  • Comment number 11.

    The founders of the American nation-state for example were real liberal democrats. Jefferson and Madison.......

    -------------

    america, liberal? dont make me laugh. you hold up as exemplars two men who vehemently opposed slavery but kept them for their whole lives anyway.

    we follow american exemplars at our peril, in the tv debate arena as in other things.

    the USA is culturally a disturbing admixture of hyper-rationality and deeply rooted fundamentalist religiosity, founded as it was by psycho-christians with buckles on their hats.

    the USA is obsessed by an irresponsbile sense of invulnerable, unaccountable manifest destiny to expand and dominate, because god's on their side.

    and like the Madison and Jefferson, the USA has fits of conscience, as now under OBama, which never last very long, and never actually change very much. next time, partly due to the tv debate format, theyll elect a telegenic fundamentalist weirdo who threatens to invade Iran in terms reminsicent of the Book of Reveleations, because they've all see Terminator 2 too often.

    american liberalism is a fig leaf. what they actually need and what we need is a gale of exposure, not these gentle televisual zephyrs. although we hope that Gordon Brown has had a few too many the night before and forgets his wifes name, and we hope that Cameron cracks and starts ranting about the Fatherland, actually we we all know this debate is going to be a sterile procession of the predictable.

    what we need is a more genuinely British form of political debate. it is a healthy thing that politics in the UK remains show-business for ugly people. if obama was a minger he'd still be a voice calling from the wilderness.

    what we need is debate modelled on the interaction of English football managers like wenger and sir alex ferguson. these debates tell harsh truths about the other side designed to elicit the truth. they are insulting and to the point. this is my proposed template.

    football WUMery - thats the future for British politics. what i want to see is Nick Clegg crack under the harsh but true barbs of his opponants and start ranting Kevin Keegan like - I WILL LOVE IT! LOVE IT! if we beat them. that would be well funny.

  • Comment number 12.

    It is going to be rubbish.

    All three of them will be standing there saying why the other shouldn't get in instead of saying anything of any real policy. It will all be generic nonsense.

    Brown: I saved the world, the Tories will wreck it
    Cameron: Brown admitted responsibility on banking failures, its time for change! I have a new bike.
    Clegg: Tories will destroy the world. Brown nearly did. Doesn't Vince Cable look like a likable old grandpa, one you can trust!

    There will nothing of substance in this display and no addressing of the real issues.

  • Comment number 13.

    So ... who's actually bored enough to watch this drivel tonight?

  • Comment number 14.

    And anyway, why are we slavishly following the Americans in everything we say or do?

    It's almost like these days we're little more than a glove puppet, a talking head that's paying lip service to their propaganda and rubbish while they have their collective hand up our [expletive deleted]

  • Comment number 15.

    Nicky, in butcher’s shop this morning – where assistant Yuri is attempt difficult recipe of goat cheese and beaver flan – we are puzzles by headline this blog. What is suggest? Will candidates need do impressions!? Is this how election is decide, with Mr Brown take off Sunny Jim Calaghan and say “Crisis, what crisis?”, Cameron is do Blair, with y’know, like, trust me, I’m a public schoolboy, while Clogg is shave head and pretend be Winch Cables in hope be recognise and popular? Very strange.
    Though I am hear that glorious Vlad – he so versatiles – is do amazing take off of Angela Merkel, while Medvedev (he Putin-lite or Putin-short) entertain Japanese ambassador with karaoke version “It’s Not Unusual” by your picaresque Fielding hero Tom Jones. Not even CIA is do more extraordinary renditions!

    Yuri is do Boris Yeltsin this morning, but only because he drink too much beetroot and potato moonshine last night. As for me, I try perfect my William Jefferson Clinton, though am not tell wife Irina.

  • Comment number 16.

    #13. At 06:41am on 15 Apr 2010, TimeLord wrote:

    "So ... who's actually bored enough to watch this drivel tonight?"

    Me! - provided I can stay awake long enough!

  • Comment number 17.

    Sir may I avail myself of the hospitality of your web page once more to say

    Konnolsky for Prime Minister!

  • Comment number 18.

    Konn - can Medvedev also do the proletarian comic opera classic "Matchstick Men" by Gilbert and Sullivan?

  • Comment number 19.

    Psst! Blog, I thought we were all getting our weight behind Robbo.

    Ah well, him or Konn would be far better than the tosh on display tonight.

  • Comment number 20.

    12. At 06:37am on 15 Apr 2010, sircomespect wrote:
    It is going to be rubbish.

    All three of them will be standing there saying why the other shouldn't get in instead of saying anything of any real policy. It will all be generic nonsense.

    ===========================

    I hope it doesn't degenerate to that but perhaps they could install three soundproof boothes, one each for the to stand in at short notice - the second any of them starts interpreting the others positions , the sound is cut off and they are left spouting drivel to themselves instead of the audience.

    Whilst 60 minutes of dead air may well be not what was hoped for at least we could be cheered by the sight of the gradual steaming up of the three silent leader pods - perhaps for the 2nd debate they could install gunk tanks and if they start putting words into their opponents mouths they get covered in sticky goo of the appropriate colour - this could permit the casually disinterested to watch the last minute only and judge the winner from who remained the cleanest.
    After all cleaning up politics is supposed to one of the issues of the election.

  • Comment number 21.

    I can't quite get over that there are only three ( two and a half) parties in this " debate".
    Utterly UNDEMOCRATIC.

  • Comment number 22.

    (Whispers : sorry star.)

    Nick Robbo-inson for PM!

  • Comment number 23.

    20. At 07:16am on 15 Apr 2010, Whistling Neil wrote:

    -----------------------------------

    Noels House Party comes to the Election .... I love it.

  • Comment number 24.

    Brown's biggest problem is that for everything he proposes he has to answer the cheap reposte, "You've had 13 years, why haven't you done it already?" The manner in which he answers that implication will be important. Also he has to be careful not to get wound up - he needs to show positivity, but not arrogance if he is under attack.

    Cameron's biggest proble is that he has a tendency to go for the sound bite rather than show strength. The trouble for him is that he might be doing well in the debate, but is he a leader. His task is not to score points, but to create the impression that he is a man of political substance. He still comes across as an enthusiastic advisor rather than a leader.

    Clegg has a difficult job. He has to be distinctive, but somehow has to convince voters in constituencies where Lib/Dems are strong that having a hung Parliament will be good because of the reform it will bring. He also has to make the case for a hung parliament to remain for a couple of years as the prospect of a second election this year (please NO!!) would damage recovery. All this without admitting that a hung Parliament is his best hope of being (partially) in government.

    I won't be bothering to watch as I think it will tell us nothing about the future. I have already made up my mind as my present MP is a money grabbing so and so, one of the other candidates has made such stupid statements it make me wonder about standards of education (not telling you the sector) so it has to be the other one.

    My belief if enough people vote for the right candidate who is not prepared to be lobby fodder, it might make a small difference.

  • Comment number 25.

    Another thought ... given most MP's have been found out to be sourly wanting, are poor at what they do and cheated and swindled the public for all they could before the expenses scandal, isn't it a bit late to start worrying about impressions?

    Very much a case of bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted IMO.

  • Comment number 26.

    Nick, I think you may well fnd the "debate" is nothing of the sort. It will be just a simple question and answer session to see who can sweat the most. 90 minutes of politicians is a fate i think many of us could well do without. There will be no new promises (never kept)No real truth about where the axe is to fall and how heavily. Expect nothing and if you have the will to watch you will not be dissapointed. Its Have I Got News For You for me.

  • Comment number 27.

    16. At 06:54am on 15 Apr 2010, Charentais wrote:

    #13. At 06:41am on 15 Apr 2010, TimeLord wrote:

    "So ... who's actually bored enough to watch this drivel tonight?"

    Me! - provided I can stay awake long enough!

    -----------------------------------------

    Good luck with that then ;)

    I'm not sure if this debate will prove a cure for my insomnia or drive me to suicide personally ...

  • Comment number 28.

    Debate? Really? This “leaders’” broadcast seems to have been so structured that it will have the spontaneity of a hymn sheet recitation.

    If that is they and their ‘people’s’ doing let them reap what they sow.

    But as one who initially thought it was an opportunity to pose questions that might be somehow different to the editorial pre-selection our broadcast broadcasters already demonstrate from vox-pops to ‘viewers e-mails’ to ‘objective commentators’, I am under few illusions any more.

    And whatever Mr. Clegg is saying, if the best his PPC in my marginal constituency can keep banging out is that it's all a bankers' plot and to keep the Conservatives out one needs to vote for her, then she might learn that 'nothing to lose' strategy does still carry some consequences if it is utter pants.

    I feel sorry for my very good Lib Dem councillor bravely out and about gilding this very withered lily, if there is no national or local point giving them the time of day.

    Let the best hand gesture, lip curl or nose touch win!

  • Comment number 29.

    So, style over substance yet again.

    A glib tongue and a pretty face may have won Obama his presidency, but I am not choosing a president... I am choosing a whole government by selecting who I wish to hire to represent my constituency.

    Mediocre men bereft of vision uttering stage-managed mouthings will not help me decide which of the candidates in Crewe & Nantwich will do. Only one of whom has put a leaflet through my door yet, very little campaigning here apart from a few posters for the sitting tenant in farmers' fields.

  • Comment number 30.

    15. At 06:52am on 15 Apr 2010, Konnolsky wrote:
    Nicky, in butcher’s shop this morning....

    Thanks for that Konnolsky, it made me smile - which is more than can be said for a lot of the Election items that are available on the various medias. It appears that a fairly large boycott of the televised debates may occur! As one commentator mentioned, the next day's papers with the 'highlights and extracts' may prove more useful and popular!

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm avoiding all media where I can about the elections ... It's all hype and lies anyway.

    The only reason I'll bother voting is to avoid a massive ticking off from Granddad and a rant about how fighting the Nazis wasn't worth the bother because of today's apathy towards democracy ...

  • Comment number 33.

    Nick Clegg just has to show up and he's won!

    Nothing to do with policies or the actual debate but just on the basis that he'll get lots of free publicity that the Lib Dems don't normally get.

    Publicity tends to mean votes.

    Not sure how enlightening the debate will be - we'll end up talking about whose suit was best ironed etc rather than the policies becuase we are unlikely to hear anything new.

  • Comment number 34.

    I have very little interest in tonight's debate. I still believe in the parliamentary system. The media in the UK has made a great deal about a shift away from the parliamentary system to something that is more presidential. Blair was accused of this. At the same time the media has been demanding a "debate" between the different leaders of the parties. This shifts us further towards a presidential system. I still believe that each member of parliament is there to represent their constituencies. What we will see tonight is a "beauty contest" where the style of presentation will supersede substance. I may be old-fashioned but the policies of the party should be the thing that matters not whether one leader sweats more than another. It is sad day for our system when we have to call in Americans to guide these three individuals on how to handle a "stage-managed2 TV event. It does not surprise me that many people are disenchanted with politics in the UK. If we want a presidential system then we will have to change our constitution. For me, I still want the Prime Minister to be like any other member of parliament (they represent their constituents) and to simply be leader of the largest party in the House of Commons. Tonight's debate will move us closer to a presidential system and if that is what the people want, then don't complain when the next Prime Minister takes no account of other members of Parliament, takes only occasional reference from Cabinet and behaves just like a President. Does this ring any bells? Isn't this what Blair did? And didn't he take us to war simply because "he believed". How long will it be before the Prime Minister takes on the title of "Commander in Chief"? I for one will not be looking at the make-up and the make-overs. I will vote for the party manifesto that most closely relates to my priorities and what I believe to be best for the majority of society.

  • Comment number 35.

    The Three Stooges: Mo, Mo and Mo!

  • Comment number 36.

    It'll probably be just well rehearsed drivel like PMQs has become.
    I wonder if there would be any merit in giving the audience an insight into the more common question evading techniques and political point scoring/ attention deflecting activities; just before the debate was due to start?
    I was thinking about the ABC technique they seem to use all the time.
    Perhaps we could have a sweepstake on how many times Lord Ashcroft's name comes up from Gordon Brown or Nick Clegg, or how many times David Cameron uses the word "change" without identifying to what exactly!

  • Comment number 37.

    Reality TV has 3 new stars
    Though truth and stuff may be quite sparse
    Oh! - and anything real won't be there, I fear
    On 'I'm a Prime Minister ... Get Me in Here!!!'

  • Comment number 38.

    Going to be a bit of a shock for Brown.

    Cameron and Clegg will be the first two people he's met on his campaign trail who aren't specially selected, bussed in, pre-screened ardent Labour supporters.

  • Comment number 39.

    Given the TV debate has vetted questions,who do the these politicians think they are fooling? Smartly dressed ,rehearsed and coreographed, Al Capone and the Kray twins where good dressers given a top P-R team could have gone far. But seriously,its just cheap TV and will not make one iota of difference to the way I or vertually anybody votes. A good time to walk the dog and reflect on the mess they have made between themselves of our lives.

  • Comment number 40.

    Why are we aping bits and parts of the American system? Why not go the distance? Separate election for the head of the government from the legislature?

    I was under the impression that most, sane, people are not cast in one form. I am very liberal on most issues but fairly conservative on some others.

    What we really need is LOCAL representation in the house of commons with MPs. More independents.


    SCRAP THE PARTIES!!!!!


    Failing which, get Simon Cowel to select a PM for us. A revolting spectacle but hell lot more democratic than the fiasco planned for 6th May.

  • Comment number 41.

    Debate? With 76 rules? Audience MUST NOT make a peep. Soviet-style, or wot?

    Besides, this is not the USA. The British public will not be fooled. They will largely ignore it and vote in the way they think best.

  • Comment number 42.

    Did anyone watch newsnight last night?

    Why did Peter Hain and the Lord Rennard actually go on. They made themselves totally ridiculous.

    On the one hand labour are asking the Lib Dems to tactically vote while they are not prepared to ask their supports to reciprocate the favour and the Lib Dem are asking the same of Labour.

    Paxman did well to keep a straight face. Hain actually said Labour are the only viable option, that's bound to get the Lib Dems rite behind him, surly that is what the election is for. With the polls so close why are they stooping to this so early in the campaign?

    Both appear to have lost a lot of credibility over this, funny enough if the Lib Dems had done it it would have been expected and accepted however with them both doing it it gave the impression of desperation. Do they fear that they will not have the support of their core voters.

    What a sad spectacle but it was amusing in a cringing type of way....

    So if we get a hung parliament this is what we can expect, perhaps good for the journalists but not for us or the country!

  • Comment number 43.

    I find it incredibly unfair that Clegg who is the leader of the third party in Scotland is allowed to take part in these debates even though we all know he will never become Prime Minister and yet the leader of the SNP - the party that has formed the Scottish Govt - is being refused a similar opportunity.


  • Comment number 44.

    I trust that the leaders' debate will match the standard of discussion which has appeared on these blog pages during the past week. New, young contributors, most notably RedBlueUnited92 and blobdignag, have revitalised these discussion pages, bringing with them the voices from the streets of vibrant, multi-cultural, 21st century Britain. More power to them, I say.

    Some regular posters have been less than welcoming - most notably a loud ex-pat who seems to have nothing to do all day but spend hours telling us how glad he is to have got out of Blighty. Methinks the laddie doth protest too much.

    But back to the politics.

    Now that all of the main manifestos have been published, certain conclusions may be arrived at.

    I am surprised that the LibDems have a manifesto. I thought they only had Vince Cable. They should have forgotten about their "anorexic" publication and enhanced their ecological credentials by using the slogan: Paper-free - Get It From Cable.

    An opportunity lost there, I fancy.

    I am confused by the cover of the other two manifestos. I am sure that I've seen that Labour art-deco sunrise thing somewhere before. I think it was an inter-war years poster, or possibly a Second World War thing. Or was it on the box of Sun-Pat raisins I used to get at the pictures when I was a kid?

    The Tory cover is much more recognisable. It's a scene from Derek Jarman's "Blue". It's every scene from Derek Jarman's "Blue", come to think of it, and it goes on, and on, and on, for nine hours. Then again, so does the Tory manifesto - although the pie-charts are handy to cut out and use as coasters.

    And what's all this stuff about the wives, and especially Mrs Brown's feet? No mention was ever made of that when Billy Connolly played her in the film.

    Anyway, bloggers here should retain their cool; and remember, each of you has only the same number of votes as blogdignag, and RedandBlue92 with his tag off. Which is probably one more than that Billy bloke.

    Carry on.

  • Comment number 45.


    A 'debate'? Hardly. A 90 minute turn-off more likely.

    Broadcasters are pulling out all the stops to make sure viewers don't get cold feet. A US-style debate over-hyped and over here. Heavily trailed to make sure of a sure fire hit.

    A stuffy format, kowtowing to Westminster three party politics politics and a 'prime ministerial' debate when voters don't elect a president or a prime minister.

    It's the gaffes, one-liners and zingers which will stick with the viewer. If any are allowed through the tightly controlled control room spin?

    https://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/lights-camera-inaction.html

  • Comment number 46.

    `...a gripping episode of Corrie...'

    Do us all a favour, Nick; Coronation Street is a drollery. It is not real life.

    Mind you, neither are these debates. Since when did the modern political class connect with the electorate?

    It is the media which are building this debate up into a big thing. If I want to see three egos bashing away at each other whilst abusing everyone else, which I don't, I just go downstairs to the Marketing Department.

    Anyway what happened to `The' Eastenders?

  • Comment number 47.

    Every time I switch over to ITV to see if there is anything worth watching there are adverts showing - don't think I'll bother as this is going to be just one big advert....

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    Well, I shall watch the debates of course, but I don't have high hopes. It sounds like there are so many rules of engagement that we won't get to see anything remotely resembling a debate, merely a succession of prepared soundbites.

    I doubt that watching the debates will make any difference to which box I place my X next to on May 6, and I speak as someone who is as yet undecided about which way to vote.

  • Comment number 50.

    #48

    Disgraceful! My comment did not break any house rules.

  • Comment number 51.

    #48

    I have now received an email telling me that postings will be removed if "considered likely to provoke, attack or offend others; are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable; are considered to have been posted with an intention to disrupt; contain swear words (including abbreviations or alternative spellings) or other language likely to offend."

    My post does not fit into any of these categories, and refers to matters already very well publicised on these blogs and elsewhere. (I can only assume whoever is moderating this morning isn't aware of this)

    It is vital the the BBC is seen to be impartial. This heavy handed 'moderation' is unacceptable.

  • Comment number 52.

    zoot thats a great post. particularly the bit about me. youre great as well.

    i like the idea of using pie-charts as cut out coasters. why not take this a step further and actually include real pies? then normal people as opposed to the rude, dry-as-dust bores who imagine politics to be their own exclusive province, might take more of an interest, especially if said pie-charts were manufactured by Wrights of Stoke-on-trent. Meat and tater. luvverly.

    another way of bringing politics (yamn) back to the people as opposed to the current steady sAte of Tyrrany by tedium, Robbo Robinson (who Im sure is too busy/poncy to actually read the replies to his teedious postings) could learn a thing or two from the God of the Oche, Sid Waddel. How much better if we had that kind of commentary tonight

    ...Brown steps up to the hustings...lithe and lissome, poised and poisonous..eyes bulging like the belly of a hungry chaffinch...gordon brown, what an athlete....Cameron needs to post a big one here....Kleggog, his face sagging with tension, his skill at wordsmithery of outrageous proportions...OH MY GOD! THERES ONLY ONE WORD FOR THAT - MAGIC POLITICS!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    Well i think that a TV debate is a good thing but we should have had these 20 years ago... why people didn't want to see John Major and Neil Kinnock on prime time television has bemused me for years, but lets face facts, a news debate where they act all phony and nice is hardly going to inspire the electorate of this country in to a political frenzy... What we need is a something fresher, now before i became refuse manger at McDonalds (2 stars) i was head of development for Endemol, i have some proposals i shall be sharing through out the day, i emplore the BBC to take these on board when they host thier debate and for once speak to the hearts and television sets of real Britain...

  • Comment number 55.

    51. At 09:38am on 15 Apr 2010, DistantTraveller wrote:

    -----------------------------------

    Fight the power mate. We all do, even it does mean regeneration. ;)

  • Comment number 56.

    Mind the Beeb and it's Moderation Army is about as impartial as my right foot is to a good kicking ....

  • Comment number 57.

    Red...Blue...come clean RBA which side do you support? Youre not a Barcalona fan in disguise are you?

    Magic darts.

  • Comment number 58.

    impressions are not relevant. tv debate is yet more spin over substance.

    i want to know why the british public cannot get near the leaders?
    the sight of gordon brown appearing to get on a train, via hand shaking members of the public - the same public that were wearing labour tshirts and giving out leaflets and balloons not an hour before, speaks volumes for me.

    those that avoid the public and unscripted questions have the most to hide

    id rather see the debate take place in a town centre - including ukip, greens and bnp leaders, in front of real people, without the masses of party activists or security men hovering in the background, stopping awkward questions being asked

  • Comment number 59.

    Our Nick mentions America and Americans often in this piece and we English have cause to be extremely grateful to one American living and working here in England.

    I refer to the American journalist, Heather Brooke, whose persistence finally uncovered the 'Manure Parliament' via the FoI.

    Americans such as Brooke are shocked at the way we carry on here in England.

    It is not surprising though, to anybody who read Jonathon Freedlands book 'Bring home the Revolution'.

    That book basically shows that our 'democracy' in England has barely advanced in 300 years.

    Pitiful ... and now a stilted TV debate is supposed to be a great leap forward.

    We English have a lot to learn about how to do democracy.

  • Comment number 60.

    Taking inspiration from Pokemon, the heads of each party should call up differnt members of their cabinets to battle it out in an arena.

    "Darling, i chose you!"

    "Osborne, use toff-attack"

  • Comment number 61.

    They will pontificate about the NHS, Education, Policing etc as though it is for the UK when in fact what they say only applies in England.

    Yet it will be beamed to Scotland where the Scottish Parliament has responsibilities for these weighty matters and the SNP is the party in power and the Tories only have one MP. Not to forget Wales and particularly NI, where neither the Libdems nor Labour nor the Tories have candidates, which have similarly been dismissed as ruled from England.

    Made for TV and a charade which makes a mockery of so called democracy!

  • Comment number 62.

    For the past week my wife has been giving me real earache about the fact the garden needs weeding.

    With a torch and a trowel I intend to earn some big brownie points tonight.

  • Comment number 63.

    Employ Vince Mcmahon from WWE to host a "no holds barred" triple threat match... First blood rules could be discussed later on.

  • Comment number 64.

    #5, it's not the viewing figures for the first debate that are important, it's the viewing figures for the last debate that count.

  • Comment number 65.

    its hard to avoid the conclusion, watching and listening to the wannabee MPs and Prime Ministers, that democracy is over-rated.

  • Comment number 66.

    Scrapheap Challenge...

    Each of the main parties pick a team of 4 (must be heads by thier leader obviously) and have to build a boat which can drive on land or something like that... The finished boats have to complete a track in the quickest time.

  • Comment number 67.

    Phil "the Power" Taylor for Prime Minister. It would be great to see the Power in power. If Gordon Brown was as good at his job as Phil taylor, England would have a colony on Mars by now.

  • Comment number 68.

    60. At 09:50am on 15 Apr 2010, RedBlueArmy92 wrote:

    Taking inspiration from Pokemon, the heads of each party should call up differnt members of their cabinets to battle it out in an arena.

    "Darling, i chose you!"

    "Osborne, use toff-attack"

    ----------------------------------------

    LOL! I'd pay good money to see Gordon Brown pull out a Hyper Beam attack and obliterate Nick Griffin live on TV.

  • Comment number 69.

    RBA/60 - how would you get politicians to take part in this kind of face/off?

    Poke 'em on

  • Comment number 70.

    These debates really matter with such a close call election, don’t they? As always it will be style not substance which counts, so DC ought to show up quite well. What the three of them wear will be absolutely crucial, of course, and my people have done me proud on this one; they’ve found out and they’ve told me, so I can tell you. Brown will be in his usual sober sides dark suit plus the ever present purple tie. White shirt obviously. Clegg is going for a lighter suit – not the “Man from Del Monte” or anything, but a touch less grim than Gordon’s. Also a white shirt (yawn) and a pale lemony tie. And David Cameron? Well it’s caution to the winds; he’ll be rocking the debate in a baggy pair of striped trousers – very high waistband - soft shoes, no shirt but rather a shorty jacket and braces. Quite a risk, this, even without the comedy red nose which his advisors counselled against but which he (apparently) has insisted upon. Hell of a risk actually ... let’s see if it pays off.

  • Comment number 71.

    "Wee-Scamp wrote:
    I find it incredibly unfair that Clegg who is the leader of the third party in Scotland is allowed to take part in these debates even though we all know he will never become Prime Minister and yet the leader of the SNP - the party that has formed the Scottish Govt - is being refused a similar opportunity."

    Nick Clegg represents a party that the vast majority of the population have the chance to vote for. Having the SNP on the debate would be totally pointless for voters in England, Wales and Northern Island where we couldn't vote for the SNP even if we wanted to.

    I believe the Green Party will have more candidates at the next General Election than the SNP, and that UKIP got over 2 million more votes in the European elections last year than the SNP yet neither of these parties will be represented in the leaders debate.

  • Comment number 72.

    "RedBlueArmy92 wrote:
    Scrapheap Challenge...

    Each of the main parties pick a team of 4 (must be heads by thier leader obviously) and have to build a boat which can drive on land or something like that... The finished boats have to complete a track in the quickest time. "

    Now THAT would be well worth watching - would need to get Kryton back to host it though!

  • Comment number 73.

    "sagamix wrote:
    These debates really matter with such a close call election, don’t they? As always it will be style not substance which counts"

    It is actually a good thing that people will vote on style rather than substance because none of the leaders have much substance.

  • Comment number 74.

    IN order to keep with the current trend of prime time television, the obvious answer is... Dance Off.

    "Brown, you got served..."

    "Oh its on Clegg, yo DJ drop something a little funky on his ass!"

  • Comment number 75.

    17. At 06:54am on 15 Apr 2010, blogdignag wrote:

    Sir may I avail myself of the hospitality of your web page once more to say

    Konnolsky for Prime Minister!


    I also am agreeing.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    Is there anywhere I can download a transcript of tonight's debate in advance ?

  • Comment number 78.

    Nick, I thought for a moment that you were advocating a couple of intervals hosted by Rory Bremner to inject a little light relief into the debates. Then again, perhaps there's still time for the main players to don foam rubber costumes and be sent down an obstacle course to the commentary of Stuart Hall...

    Seriously though, I'm concerned that the debates represent a further descent towards a presidential style of government - and an election where people vote for a party leader rather than the best constituency candidate. And, as far as national issues go, "personality" - erm, in its absence, let's make do with "presentation" - triumphs over policy.

  • Comment number 79.

    Remember that recession that started in America and we were best placed in the world to resist it and it was all the American's fault and nothing to do with Gordon Brown?

    How come in the US they are about to embark on the biggest expansion in their healthcare system in their history whilst over here we are scrabbling around facing massive cuts elsewhere just so our NHS can stand still?

    Meanwhile, slsewhere in the developed world, other than Greece and Ireland no other countries seem to be facing the draconian cuts and big tax rises that we do

    Anyone would think that we had structural finance problems that transcend the banking crisis and can only be blamed on Brown. But that can't be the case, surely? Brown told us what great shape we were in.

  • Comment number 80.

    Another popular thread of primetime television is my inspiration for this... we get Andrew lloyd webber to judge as Cleggo, Browns and Cammy all take part in:

    "So you think that your Scum!"

    The new Jeremy Kyle inspired musical (featuring songs by Elton john and N'Dubz)

  • Comment number 81.

    72. At 10:04am on 15 Apr 2010, Mark_WE wrote:

    "RedBlueArmy92 wrote:
    Scrapheap Challenge...

    Each of the main parties pick a team of 4 (must be heads by thier leader obviously) and have to build a boat which can drive on land or something like that... The finished boats have to complete a track in the quickest time. "

    Now THAT would be well worth watching - would need to get Kryton back to host it though!
    ---------------------------------------------

    Seconded, though I'd maroon them on an island with said scrap yard ....first to make it back to blighty gets the keys to #10

  • Comment number 82.

    Less of the personal attacks (76) on other posters, Andrew, if you don't mind. Lowering the tone of the Board.

  • Comment number 83.

    "i want to know why the british public cannot get near the leaders?
    the sight of gordon brown appearing to get on a train, via hand shaking members of the public - the same public that were wearing labour tshirts and giving out leaflets and balloons not an hour before, speaks volumes for me."

    Gordon Brown is a spineless coward, pure and simple. He wouldn't dare go near the real public.

  • Comment number 84.

    I belive thier are 4 words which sum up the general feeling in this country more than any others right now...

    "Bring on the wall"

  • Comment number 85.

    38. At 09:04am on 15 Apr 2010, AndyC555 wrote:

    Going to be a bit of a shock for Brown.

    Cameron and Clegg will be the first two people he's met on his campaign trail who aren't specially selected, bussed in, pre-screened ardent Labour supporters.


    Of course the Tories and Lib Dems would never do such a thing.

  • Comment number 86.

    66. At 09:55am on 15 Apr 2010, RedBlueArmy92 wrote:
    Scrapheap Challenge...

    Like the idea but at the end could they not just sail off in the boats they have made...

  • Comment number 87.

    This has all the makings of a farce and it serves them all right. When will they all wake up and realise that just being themselves is the best strategy.

    As soon as you involve spin doctors and try and control everything, like banning audience responses, then you are creating the conditions for a flop.

    As it is, I reckon that Clegg will come off best, Brown will hold his own, and Cameron will lose it.

  • Comment number 88.

    Nick wrote "Spare a thought for messers Brown and Cameron and Clegg this morning."

    Indeed:

    "Spare a thought for the people of Scotland this morning. The leader of their democratically elected government has been excluded from these debates!"

    These debates are a carve up and a disgrace to democracy. Not only has Scotland's voice been excluded, but much of the content of the debates will not be relevant to Scotland, i.e. Education, Health and Law.

    Shame on the bbc and London political elite.

    C McK

  • Comment number 89.

    mark @ 71

    "Nick Clegg represents a party that the vast majority of the population have the chance to vote for."

    He does indeed. I like the Lib Dems, as you know, but I was disturbed by a dream last night. I wouldn’t normally relay dreams (they’re private, for one thing, and also unreliable – people say they dreamt something when really they didn’t; they just want to make a point) but this one needs to be shared. I was paying my cleaner (in the dream) – paying her the usual £10 per hour – when a stern looking Nick Clegg appeared and told me that “we couldn’t afford it” – that I had to pay her only half of this from now on. A miserly £5. Mrs Mop (not her real name, which is a nice one) was upset but I had to comply. Woke up feeling pretty bad. Also unsettled (given I’m considering voting for the Lib Dems); what does it mean? Is Clegg not on board with the Minimum Wage? Or was it a message – subtle but no less powerful for that – that a vote for Clegg is a vote for Cameron?

  • Comment number 90.

    The contestents (Cleggs, Browns and Cammy) are judged by Andrew lloyd webber in the hit new BBC show:

    "Lets look at those all important DNA tests"

    The new Jeremy Kyle inspired musical...

  • Comment number 91.

    sagamix

    It is better to look a clown than to act like one, god bless Gordon.

    Labour are actually hoping that he will now get the sympathy vote, god bless Gordon.

    Now they are calling for tactical voting from the Lib Dems, god bless Gordon.

    Mandy is suggesting that there may be a change in leadership post election, god bless Gordon.


    Can't wait for the next instalment.

  • Comment number 92.

    Each of the leaders from the top 12 parties hoping for rule of parilment have to perform nation beneftting tasks set for the by the Alan Suga of the stamp and coin world, The Queen.

    Week by week the Queen "impeaches" the party leader who has performed the worst and boots them off, mean while the winning team of party leaders enjoys a special "treat"...

  • Comment number 93.

    Morning all.

    I have to make it clear that I won't actually be watching tonight's debate on TV. I am locked away in Portugal, working, and will also be here next week, although my contract finishes then, so I will be bakc in UK for the last debate and, of course, for voting. How's my comma count doing?

    Now that we have a new, humourous thread to post on I though I'd respond to a couple of points from other threads here.

    United Dreamer, you asked me what %age of growth in the economy was involved in my costing of debt finance. Answer, None. I was costing the cost of borrowing itself. If the economy grows in the future the amount of debt that we will add to what we already owe will continue to grow, but not at the same rate. Until we have removed a current budget deficit and actually create a current budget surplus, we will nit be reducing the overall amount that we owe. Simple really.

    For those of you for whom this may have some kind of interest, borrowing 170 billion pounds for 1 year at 5 percent costs 8.5 billion pounds. thats the size of last ytears budget deficit, and thats the level of interest rate we have to look at. Puts a 1 percent raise (deferred)into perspective, doesn't it?

    And, of course, every day that passes without any action being taken to reduce the deficit, means that the costs keep rising, inexorably. And who is it that will have to pay those costs? You. Not me, I've got myself out of the net. Think before you vote, and vote wisely.

    If you feel that you won't be able to vote wisely, for whatever reason, then please don't waste your vote. Give it to somebody who will do the right thing. You know it makes sense.

    Naturally these comments do not apply to the underage Labour posters on this blog, who aren't, yet, allowed to vote. You know who you are.

  • Comment number 94.

    88. At 10:31am on 15 Apr 2010, Calum McKay wrote:

    These debates are a carve up and a disgrace to democracy. Not only has Scotland's voice been excluded, but much of the content of the debates will not be relevant to Scotland, i.e. Education, Health and Law.

    ---

    Do you not have these in Scotland?

  • Comment number 95.

    Sagamix welcome back.

    Should be great viewing. Dirty tricks are already in operation loads of banana skins have been found in the studio.

    You were obviously busy yesterday out shopping for DC's suit or does he have to make do with one of your cast off's. So funny I'm wetting myself!

    I'm still C14 although seemed to have severly upset Brhers for some unknown reason. Hey Ho.

  • Comment number 96.

    "82. At 10:20am on 15 Apr 2010, sagamix wrote:
    Less of the personal attacks (76) on other posters, Andrew, if you don't mind. Lowering the tone of the Board."

    Oh I see, YOU'RE allowed to make childish insults about people but when the table is turned, "ickle you finks it's not fair". Awww issums feelings hurt?

    Maybe if you didn't lower the tone of the board in the first place? Or are you going to argue that suggesting that Cameron would be wearing a clown outfit added to the sum of political debate on here?

    My guess is you felt big and clever trying to get a cheap laugh, then didn't like it when the cheap laugh was on you.

    If you can't take it, don't dish it out.

  • Comment number 97.

    89 - "I was paying my cleaner..."

    You should use that phrase more often, when you're talking to your Unite chums. It'll demonstrate how 'down with' the ordinary working man you are.

  • Comment number 98.

    #71 Mark_WE
    "Having the SNP on the debate would be totally pointless for voters in England,Wales and Northern Ireland where we couldn't vote for the SNP even if we wanted to."

    The whole point is that the BBC is in serious breach of it's charter in this election.Not in breach of it's charter in England.In breach of it in Wales and Scotland.It's not that nationalists want to see Alex Salmond and Ieuan Wyn Jones debating the English education system on TV with the other three.The whole crux of the matter is that the SNP and Plaid who are main parties in their countries will see their opponents given much greater airtime with these debates.

  • Comment number 99.

    "Calum McKay wrote:

    These debates are a carve up and a disgrace to democracy. Not only has Scotland's voice been excluded, but much of the content of the debates will not be relevant to Scotland, i.e. Education, Health and Law."

    There is more to the UK than Scotland - a debate involving the SNP would be pointless to the about 95% of the country. Yes, the debates will focus on subjects which are not relevant to Scotland but they are issues which are of great importance to the majority of UK voters.

    You would have a point (and I would agree with you) if this was a Scottish election but it is a UK election, and while the SNP are a major force in Scotland across the UK as a whole they finished 7th in the last UK wide election (the European elections last year) behind the BNP.

  • Comment number 100.

    89. At 10:33am on 15 Apr 2010, sagamix wrote:

    This sordid affair does not bode well for both the Lib Dems or Labour. On the one hand the Lib Dems appear to be paying staff below minimum wage and not declaring to the HMRCS as they paid in cash. On the other hand the person who has made this allegation works now for the Labour party - with accusations against her of fabricating the story.

    This one may escalate with mud being thrown at both sides. Why have the police not been involved as there are possible offences on both sides, the most serious is that someone forged the Lib Dems signature?

    Strangely both parties now appear to be playing this one down now!

 

Page 1 of 3

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.