Thursday 15 April 2010

Yawn Alert: Debate on English Domestic Affairs to be Broadcast Tonight at 8.30 on Scottish Television

As The Times puts it, Presidential politics arrive in Britain tonight.

I hope someone remembered to tell the Queen!

I was totally unaware of it, but apparently the broadcasters have been trying to get a debate running for decades, but tonight the big show is one. At prime time on ITV there will be the Nick, Dave and Gordo show. A carefully scripted, rule and regulation bound question and answer session, in Manchester, England, with an audience chosen from a thirty mile radius, thus excluding any Celts, as James Kelly points out so eloquently in
this article on Scot Goes Pop.

This show will also be run on BBC’s Radio 4, and presumably because of this it was the subject of much debate on that station’s “Today” programme this morning.

A lot of the feeling was negative, which is, quite apart from the Scottish dimension how I feel about it. “Polls suggest that 20 million voters will tune in to ITV, putting the debate on a par with an ENGLAND football international or an X Factor final”, says The Times, but somehow I can’t imagine it. The competition on other channels includes “Have I got News for You”, a documentary about Lagos (both of which I’d rather watch), a film and some quizzes. (Yes, I know you can record stuff or watch it online.) I noticed too that for those who can get the channel, the National Geographic has a documentary about the Glasgow “underbelly” which would be interes

This evening’s debate is a complete waste of time for Scottish watchers as the matters for discussion are domestic and almost everything will be English or maybe English and Welsh only in nature. The danger is that some Scots may watch and believe that the “promises” made in this party political broadcast will affect them. This is certainly a debate in which there should have been representation from the Celtic parliaments. The argument that they won’t be prime ministers holds no water. Nick Clegg won’t be prime minister and he’s there.

Who will win? Well, the consensus was that Vince Cable won the Chancellors debate (which I didn’t know was on, much less watched). Will Nick Clegg with his boyish charm and good looks and of course the certain knowledge that he is just there to make up the numbers pull it off? Will it be suave Cameron with his easy fluency and confidence born of his background, education and natural status in the upper echelons of society? Or will it be grumpy, old, worn Brown with his uneasy, stuttering style beloved only by a few, and without Sarah there to rein him in?

Who cares? Who wi
ll watch? It’s an hour and a half of what at best will be aspirations and at worst downright lies. Clegg can say whatever he wants; it makes little difference. He won’t have to deliver. Cameron doesn’t really know how bad the figures are, so anything he says is based on a guess about how much can be afforded and anything Brown says is bound to be greeted with scepticism. He’s had 13 years to make things better, like they promised.....

Although normally the tv remains off in this house, tonight I’ll be watching the Lagos programme and will catch up with “Have I got News....” on the iplayer. I have no interest in fibs about English domestic policy.

Just out of interest, I wonder if the Queen will be watching the Presidential debates.

Pics: The two contenders for "president" and the sop (whom I prefer of the three) and the poor old woman they are usurping, looking as if she's waiting for a bus.



  1. Tris,

    I think this is hugely important for Scots to get access to seeing..unless your seriously saying that Scottish people shouldnt care about English issues at all?

    That is madness. I for one care deeply about English votes for English issues, and love the English education model for its diversity- a real superiority which Scotland can learn from.

    These TV debates, and their content, is interesting, and important. Even if it only engages one extra voter in this rather cynical GE- then it is worth it.

    I am rather sadded by your tone when you wrote "This evening’s debate is a complete waste of time for Scottish watchers as the matters for discussion are domestic and almost everything will be English or maybe English and Welsh only in nature"

    But Engish issues do matter to Scottish voters! And not just out of interest as I said above..

    if we ignore English domestic issues like Education, how do we learn to impove Scottish education? It is a new fact my friend that English GCSE results have ovetaken Scots A level attainment, they are doing something right and we need to learn and listen.

    To argue that a mentality of 'if I'm not directly affected I dont care' is frankly silly Tris. Surely you can see this?!

  2. Well Dean, it can be of academic interest. I don't deny. Just as it is of interest to people how the French education system works or the health service in Botswana works.

    I don't deny that, but tonight we will be treated to a discussion covering English domestic a party political broadcast.

    That's very different from us having an interest on an intellectual level and learning things about how they may do some things better than we do. (A matter of debate.)

    I will be watching a programme on Nigeria whilst all this is going on. That will be interesting but it won't actually affect me... and no one is asking me to vote for anyone in Nigeria.

    Whereas, these three politicians competing to be prime minister (erm well 2 doing that and one, erm, looking nice and smart) will be talking about policy within the UK. The Prime Ministerial (of the whole of the UK) candidates will be putting forward their policies on things that will not affect us here in the form of a "vote for me and you will get" kind of programme.

    Now, that’s rather like Labours sneaky ploy to put Murphy and Gray up to launch the manifesto in Scotland, Gray? What has it to do with him?

    And he talked about education and crime at the launch of the UK party manifesto, giving the impression that if you vote Labour on May 6 they will (somewhat miraculously) sort out knife crime (which they failed totally to do in their 8 years and they have failed even more dramatically to do in England in 13 years despite being “tough on crime” etc, etc), and build any number of new schools.

    Just like the man from Glenrothes who campaigned on roads and potholes....

    It's wrong Dean.

    We have been sidelined, and I don’t mean the SNP, I mean Scotland. And Labour in particular have tried to make it seem that the London government can deal with domestic issues.

    The other two are colluding tonight in that. Shame!

  3. Aye, well god will have to, the poor old dear looks like she's been totally sidelined, a bit like Scotland. Sod all of them is the cry... the Queen, the Scots, the Welsh and the pesky Irish... and what of the Cornish...?

    HM should be up there on the podium, and frankly I'd be right with her if she promised to chop that stupid man's head off.

  4. Hey Dean away and get yersell an english educashun stirlin is no good enoughfur ye

  5. LOL Anon. It's fair enough to be interested, and I should have said that, but remember it doesn't affect us!

    It's observer status.

    I hope STV will make that very clear.

    Every question that is English only, should have a band under it in Scotland that says "this does not affect you".

  6. @ Anon,

    I had an 'English' education for a time, and I happen to rather love Stirling!

    It is your type of reaction which is sadly typical. The whole 'cant criticse Scottish education' mentality. So if I offer constructive criticism of our education model I should just bugger off should I to England's education system? What rubbish, honestly.

  7. Tris,

    But this could affect Scotland Tris, because the policies adopted for England often indirectly impact on Scotland all the time, and vice-versa.

    Take a look at the smoking ban, many in England would have said, its just a devolved matter- nothing to do with us...but it did! It opened up an alternative, a model, a different discourse which eventually led to England following suit. So I'd argue it is more than just academic, these arguments can impact on Scotland indirectly Tris.

  8. Well yes Dean, but you could say that of American politics, or French or Dutch. We are always learning from other country's policies.

    This doesn't mean we should listen to their party political broadcasts.

    The amount of time each party has should be governed by law. I thought it was. The big two and the Liberals are getting this time exclusively in Scotland, where, let’s be honest, the big two are the SNP and Labour.

    Mr Brown will talk about policies that he will put into practice if he wins the election. He will not put these policies into practice in Scotland or in Ireland, where his party isn't even standing. He won't put most of them into practice in Wales.

    He will brag about how much these foundation hospitals have done (although I'm sure Mr Cameron or Mr Clegg will point out how many people they kill in an effort to reach the targets set by managers). But Foundation Hospitals don't exist here.

    I'm not saying that Scotland's policies are best, and that sometimes we couldn't learn from England, as they frequently do with us.

    You talked about the smoking ban. It was a Scottish policy, but one that the Scots had pinched from some states in America. There really are no new ideas. The right tend to get their ideas from the States; the left of centre get theirs from Europe and Scandinavia.

    My problem is that this is a Party Political Broadcast which doesn’t include a large party in Scotland and that they are selling us policies that if we vote for them will NOT happen (even more than the ones that are specific to Scotland won’t happen).

    It’s just wrong Dean.

  9. Dean, the Scottish education system may have many faults, but lack of diversity sure ain't one o' them. We don't have A levels in Scotland. The Higher qualifications system gives students the chance to study a wider range of subject than the A level system.

    Just thought you needed puttin' right.

  10. The Scottish system is far closer to the Bac.

    The trouble with the English A levels is that they are like the first year of Uni in their depth, but the breadth of the education is very poor.

    It saves a year at university, but dear oh dear the students are channelled so narrowly at 16 that they have little understanding of anything outside their field.

  11. LOL @ Conan. Ah but Dean has some really left wing ideas for a Tory.

  12. From the USA.....erm......well uh.....there'll be no charge for adopting OUR patented presidential campaign idea. (Just kidding....LOL.) By "kidding," I don't mean that there WILL be a charge....well, you know what I mean.

    I have to try to get a look at the debate on cable television rerun tonight in the states.

    With historical reference to our first presidential debate in 1960, surely Gordon will come off as Richard Nixon in style. Not sure if the others can manage to be at all like John F. Kennedy though.

    And what an interesting picture of the nice looking old lady with the plastic umbrella, apparently waiting for a bus.

  13. You want to watch this Danny?

    Goodness, why not try a hair shirt or self flagellation like Opus Dei?

    Infinitely nicer I imagine.

    Aye, if I drove past her I’d give her a lift.... she doesn’t look the sort that would demand your money.... Now her kids ....sheeesh, that’s another story.

  14. We Americans have a very high tolerance for political torture Tris. As you know, our presidential election campaigns go on for more than a year.

  15. @ Conan & Tris,

    Yes, some quite leftwing ideas! One is a desire to see the renationalisation of rail and English utilities like water. How is that?

    lol, p.s- see the PMs debate anyone? I thought it was great [but then I've been in the students bar, surrounded by thousands of Labourite students, Tory youth and the odd libdem I have had a couple of G&Ts!

  16. Yes danny... you guys are well weird with it going on for 2 years and then one year break and its going again...... Mad....

  17. Och we love you for your lefty ideas... Dean the leftwing Tory!

    Nope I didn't see it, but I published the ConRes results somewhere on one of the posts mate, and your man came second... Nick won, and guess who came last?

  18. Dean.....I liked your description of your viewing venue. Such debates are ever so much improved by a couple of alcoholic libations.

  19. LOL... A couple Danny? You'd need to be three sheets in the wind to watch these old windbags.

    Seriously we all know that they are lying at the moment. They can't possibly tell us how bad it's going to be after the election is out of the way. The pain is going to be serious. We have to pay back all the money we didn't have but spent, including the billions to prop up the banks.

    Nick is right. The banks have to be split up into investment vehicles and banks that ordinary people save their money in and are bound now to have accounts with just to access thier salaries.

    Never again should we have a bank that is so big that if we let it go down it takes the country with it... like they did in Iceland and like we nearly did.

    By the way, will someone who watched this tell me: Was there any indication when something only applied to England, that this was the case?

  20. BTW, I've just seen what Alex said about the debates:

    “All the debate confirmed was that the London parties plan deep cuts to Scotland’s budget and public services. That’s why Scotland needs local and national champions in the House of Commons to break through this cosy Westminster consensus and win a better deal for Scotland.

    “Over half the debate should have been captioned ‘Except for viewers in Scotland’.

    “It was billed as a historic event but we got was three Westminster politicians looking the same, sounding the same and saying nothing of relevance to Scotland.

    “From Wick to Whitburn, viewers would be turned off by television which simply didn’t address the issues which matter to them.”

  21. Salmond is playing a loosing card, it isnt good politics on his part. To push a 'no cuts' agenda under the Nats makes him look unrealistic.

  22. Less cuts may be grammatcially dubious Dean, and fewer cuts may be preferable.... but I've not heard NO CUTS being mentioned by anyone.

    Dean Alex is a pragmatist. He knows there will be cuts no matter what. He cares that this will hit our old people adn our kids, our sick and our poor. He can't see why we have to spend £100 billion, on a weapon of mass destruction that we will never use.

    More Nats will mean more votes against this kind of madness.

    The £100 billion could be better spent on the people of England as well as Scotland, but as Alex says, it's nothing to do with him what the English decide to do with their share.