Thursday, 29 April 2010

Politics Turns Out to Be Quite Exciting After All

Well, only a week to go until the general election here in the UK and, boy, has it been exciting. Much to everyone's surprise, the leaders' debates have been a fantastic success, with viewing figures that only the soaps can routinely expect to get. Some critics have suggested that the debates mark the descent into X Factor territory, with the emphasis being placed on style, good looks and charm - obviously an area where one of the leaders does less well than the others...

But I think these people have got it wrong. The moment I sat up and began to take notice in the first debate, instead of just tuning in out of duty, was when the POLICIES of each of the parties began to be laid out side by side by the leaders of the parties. For the first time, without the cynical and unhelpful barracking of clever-clogs political hacks, voters could hear each case made, hear each party explain where they differed from the other, all argued clearly and passionately. It was a revelation. I literally sat up when I heard the answers to the first question, on immigration, and felt, for the first time, that I understood each party's policy on that subject, and the differences between them. I even got to hear, from the horse's mouth, where each leader thought the holes were in the others' policies. It was thrilling and brainy.

It is true that Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, did well in the first debate (and in the second), but I think politics was the winner in the end. After the first debate, application to the voters' register soared, with an incredible 128,000 forms being downloaded off the Electoral Commission website in the weekend after the debate - a fantastic result for democracy.

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