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I agree with Nick: you're no Jack Kennedy.
April 16, 2010 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday, the leaders of the three largest political parties in the UK engaged in a live televised election debate for the first time in history. Most commentators seem to agree that Nick Clegg, the leader of Britain's perennial third party the Liberal Democrats, made the best impression in yesterday's first of three weekly debates leading up to the general election on May 6. The progressive-leaning Guardian even goes so far as to claim that he is now prime ministerial material.

This being Metafilter you will undoubtedly ask, "how does Cory Doctorow figure into all of this?" Well, he agrees with Nick on the Digital Economy Act. Then again, Nick is agreed with quite a lot.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (54 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well done, Mr. Clegg.

And this is why a third-party candidate will NEVER be allowed in the US Presidential Debates. People might actually LIKE what s/he has to say, and that would be, you know, the end of the Republic. And stuff.
posted by davidjmcgee at 11:12 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


This being Metafilter you will undoubtedly ask, "how Cory Doctorow figure into all of this?"

what no
posted by mhoye at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2010 [21 favorites]


Ross Perot begs to differ, Davidjmcgee.
posted by cell divide at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


live televised election debate for the first time in history.

The first? Really? God. We get at least two every election, one in French, the other in English. The last one had five party leaders involved. They have become exercises in tedium for me...a bunch of pasty politicians all struggling to spew the best one liner of the evening, because that's what will make the news.

Any substantive discussion and debate is adroitly avoided by platitudes, posturing, and puerile questioning.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:16 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Full debate is here
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:18 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The best comment was: "This is the worst Kraftwerk gig ever."
posted by Webbster at 11:18 AM on April 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


Ross Perot begs to differ, Davidjmcgee.

And Ron Paul still wants you to Google around for him.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:18 AM on April 16, 2010


Actual full debate here
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:19 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ross Perot begs to differ, davidjmcgee.

But does he -- let me finish -- have any sort of chart?
posted by davidjmcgee at 11:19 AM on April 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


I haven't seen the debate yet, but from chatting in work today, a lot of people seemed seriously impressed by Clegg. There was a similar reaction from the (far fewer) people I know who watched the Chancellors' debate: most people were very impressed by Cable.

The consensus seems to be that, in both debates, the Lib Dems persued the radical new strategy of providing actual information and plans instead of emotive soundbites. They also came across as more honest than the other candidates. In the Chancellors' debate, Cable said something along the lines of "I can't promise that there won't be cuts in spending; but neither can they, even though they're going to. The difference is that I'll tell you what our plans are".

Being honest and treating voters as if we have a few braincells each might just be crazy enough to work.

Did I hear something about a debate between smaller parties? I remember that the Greens, BNP and UKIP were badgering for coverage, and the BBC seemed likely to arrange it. That would be a fun one to watch.
posted by metaBugs at 11:33 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Worst Kraftwerk contest ever.

(Yes, I stole this)
posted by mkb at 11:36 AM on April 16, 2010


Contest? Concert. Sheesh.
posted by mkb at 11:38 AM on April 16, 2010


The highlight for me was Cameron saying that we shouldn't scrap Trident because he might want to launch a nuclear strike on China. Aim high, big feller.
posted by him at 11:41 AM on April 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh man, UKIP vs BNP vs Greens? Are you serious? What would be the point in that? Are there really some undecided voters out there thinking "hmm, on the one hand, I would love to deport people of non-British ancestry and bring back corporal punishment, but on the other hand I'm really into renewable power and more funding for public transport!"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:44 AM on April 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


The Tories have put forth a policy of X-Factor style competition in schools, with the winner getting a recording contract.

I have no words.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:45 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The highlight for me was Cameron saying that we shouldn't scrap Trident because he might want to launch a nuclear strike on China.

I can see China from my house!
posted by creeky at 11:54 AM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm rather proud to admit that until I just googled him, I had no idea who Cory Doctorow was.

In other news, just sent off for my postal ballot. Three cheers for an election cycle that takes less than 18 months to run it's course. I thought Nick Clegg did quite well.
posted by arcticseal at 12:00 PM on April 16, 2010


There was also a delightfully uncomfortable moment at the end when Cameron tugged on Clegg's sleeve when he tried to walk off the stage, leaving the two of them standing there like two little kids getting the stage directions wrong in the school play.
posted by creeky at 12:04 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like Nick Clegg.

I don't really disagree with anything he says in this Q&A (page down to the bottom of the article)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/11/nick-clegg-interview
posted by DanCall at 12:08 PM on April 16, 2010


Contest? Concert. Sheesh.

Crime doesn't pay. You should've paid homage instead.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:23 PM on April 16, 2010


I'm not sure I find the sleeve-tug moment that awkward. Wasn't Cameron just reminding Clegg of some stage direction that Brown was to shake hands with the crowd first, and they were directed to stay on the podium for the time being?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2010


I saw the debate. Clegg did brilliantly.

"I agree with Nick" should be the defacto campaign slogan, and Brown and Cameron constantly agreeing with him -- even as their parties try to block his policies -- should be their commercials.

Quite a few people on Facebook agree with Nick this morning too.
posted by markkraft at 12:34 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Clegg was very good, but I think a lot of the support for him is just, "Wow, so that's who Nick Clegg is!" Or alternatively, "Wow, this guy isn't Charles Kennedy!"
posted by fire&wings at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


They have become exercises in tedium for me...a bunch of pasty politicians all struggling to spew the best one liner of the evening, because that's what will make the news.

Oh, that's nothing. Watch an American presidential "debate" sometime.
posted by blucevalo at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2010


Wasn't Cameron just reminding Clegg of some stage direction that Brown was to shake hands with the crowd first, and they were directed to stay on the podium for the time being?

There's no way would they have agreed to Brown doing the handshake first - the debate was governed by 76 rules that they spent ages hammering out.

My thought at the time was that Brown's advisors had said 'Right, Gordo, at the end, start shaking hands, it will make the other two look aloof and remote and posh! Ha ha!', but Cameron (ever the toady prefect type) was sticking to their mark on the stage for the closing credits, and his little Clegg tug was to keep him on the right spot, in the hope that Brown would look foolish for winging it.

Anyway, Clegg was indeed impressive. His 'those two' shtick was especially well-judged - he managed to distance himself from the major parties, make Cameron's 'change' platform look ludicrous, and turn Gordon 'I agree with Nick' Brown into a booster for Lib Dem policy. Deft stuff.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 12:51 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wasn't Cameron just reminding Clegg of some stage direction that Brown was to shake hands with the crowd first, and they were directed to stay on the podium for the time being?

Or, alternatively, he was just being a jerk.
posted by blucevalo at 12:51 PM on April 16, 2010


And this is why a third-party candidate will NEVER be allowed in the US Presidential Debates. People might actually LIKE what s/he has to say, and that would be, you know, the end of the Republic. And stuff.

Okay, hold on here. I happen to agree that the bar for third-party candidates is generally set a bit too high, and in particular it's been pretty blatantly set specifically to keep out Ralph Nader. But you can't claim it will NEVER happen, because it happened in the far-off far-distant time of 1992, when Ross Perot got up on stage next to Bill Clinton and then-President George H W Bush. Did he win any electoral votes? Well, no. But he was a credible third-party challenger who did, in fact, participate in a US Presidential Debate, which belies the notion that it's unthinkable because everybody knows that everything about the whole process is totally broken, right?
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:07 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, hold on here.

I know. I whiffed. There used to be an "again" in that sentence but it ran off somewhere when I wasn't looking.
posted by davidjmcgee at 1:16 PM on April 16, 2010


"how does Cory Doctorow figure into all of this?"

The answer to this question is always either

1. He is utterly, gobsmackingly, jaw-droppingly amazed by it, and it is the most achingly beautiful thing he's ever seen/head/read/eaten/written in his entire life, and he just bought eleven of them

or

2. It is worse than cancer, AIDS, the Holocoaust, an 9-11 combined and if you don't also agree, then you are a moron.
posted by Ratio at 1:33 PM on April 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


I managed to watch the debate this morning, and was unexpectedly impressed by Clegg. I wouldn't have voted for the Tories (gay issues) or Labour (war) either way, but it's good to know my vote is going to a party with a leader that can conduct himself like an intelligent adult in public. He used a few of the tricks Obama used during the Presidential debates - using a lot of body language to communicate that he was separate from the other two candidates but still open to communication, at various points he turned to look at them when they were speaking as well as looking at them when he spoke. He remembered people that had asked questions earlier, and referred back to them. Cameron on the other hand looked like some kind of freak latex robot, too shiny, taking the Palin route of staring directly into the audience/cameras and mentioning token "real" people as if they were case studies. The "I met a black man" gaffe was horrendous. And Brown looked... lost. He's an intelligent, knowledgeable man, but he comes off as so weak, it's ridiculous. If he had more courage, perhaps to admit the wars we've been involved in were giant mistakes, I think it would be a different story. But he doesn't, so he won't get re-elected. Poor sod.

I just hope my proxy voting form got to the Electoral people in time, my Mum is supposed to vote for me from this point on (until they take my voting rights away anyway, think it's 15 years) now I'm living in the US. Perhaps the Lib Dems have got a real shot at it this year? Who knows. We'll see.
posted by saturnine at 1:38 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know. I whiffed. There used to be an "again" in that sentence but it ran off somewhere when I wasn't looking.

I feel pretty confident in stating that a third party candidate will be present at the debates just as soon as he or she gains more than a marginal amount of support. So your problem would seem to be with the voters rather than the debate organizers.
posted by Justinian at 2:42 PM on April 16, 2010


Yikes. The first YouGov poll conducted since the debate has a huge bounce for the Lib Dems:

Con 33% (-4)
Lab 28% (-3)
Lib 30% (+8)

Naturally, it's temporary and probably a statistical outlier to boot, but Lib Dems in second place in the popular vote? That's crazy. Clegg really seems to have made an impact.

Of course, even if the vote breakdown between the three parties was 30/30/30, the number of seats would be something like Lab 300 Con 200 Lib 100, so there's no realistic chance of a Lib Dem government or even opposition. Don't you love first past the post?
posted by him at 3:00 PM on April 16, 2010


Oh the lulz. I will cry tears of laughter if the whole thing ends up being decided by the nutjob parties of my beloved Northern Ireland.
posted by Damienmce at 3:41 PM on April 16, 2010


It would be pretty Awesome to see LibDem take this (or become a swing vote). The fact that Labour has failed doesn't mean it's a good idea to go back to the failures they replaced.

Of course, I don't live in the U.K, but Labour and the Torries just seem awful from over here.
posted by delmoi at 5:50 PM on April 16, 2010


Oh the lulz. I will cry tears of laughter if the whole thing ends up being decided by the nutjob parties of my beloved Northern Ireland.

This is the election hope of at least one of the not so nutty parties in Northern Ireland.

Come on hung parliament!
posted by knapah at 6:00 PM on April 16, 2010


What on earth is a "Kwango" or whatever Cameron keeps talking about?
posted by delmoi at 8:10 PM on April 16, 2010


quango
posted by Wolof at 8:27 PM on April 16, 2010


Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Organisation.
posted by seanyboy at 11:21 PM on April 16, 2010


Somewhat amusing piss-take of Disco Dave's "I went to [town] and met [demographic] and they were also affected by [issue]" style of argument by anecdote.
posted by Abiezer at 12:27 AM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I voted against the Digital Economy Bill.

If Nick Clegg had opposed the Bill before the vote, it is highly likely that the much derided Clauses 11-18 would have been dropped.

I applaud Nick's commitment to repeal one Clause in the Act (web blocking) but frankly, if he'd spoken out sooner, the bad bits would could have been ditched. Now we're stuck with it.
posted by baggymp at 2:54 AM on April 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


baggymp: To be fair to Clegg and the rest of the Lib Dems, they've been speaking out against things perpetually. It's just their quotes have have been buried at the bottom of articles and in the margins of news reports with the Tories always chosen when journalists and broadcasters are looking for an "alternative" perspective.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:00 AM on April 17, 2010


Loving that Who Has David Cameron Met link, Abiezer.

Last week, I met a Lithuanian banker, who told me that people going on strike in this economic climate were no substitute for proper married relationships.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:01 AM on April 17, 2010


We just watched the debate last night and really enjoyed it - i think Clegg has sealed his vote from our household anyway, on the basis of proposing actual sensible-sounding things. The NHS part of the debate really drove me nuts, the way Gordon Brown kept saying that the way he was going to improve the NHS was by making "personal guarantees" that people wouldn't have to wait longer than a particular period of time for procedures. Wow, a personal guarantee, that's what I've always wanted!

I also loved Cameron's "we might need to attack China" excuse for Trident. Wow, people want to let this guy run the country? His crack about Bulgaria's health system also isn't painting him as a master diplomat.

Clegg had very reasonable things to say - like the immigration proposal to allow highly skilled workers to work within certain regions. As a highly skilled worker who came in on a special one-time-only Scottish visa, I think that's a great idea and a sensible solution for getting people where the UK needs them. The arbitrary cap is ridiculous, as are ID cards.

You get the impression from that debate that Clegg has been waiting in the wings, keen as mustard for years, coming up with ideas and is de-freaking-lighted that he finally gets to tell everyone about them on a national stage. It's delightful to see a third party getting a shot.
posted by ukdanae at 4:07 AM on April 17, 2010


Hi baggymp – it's great to have an honest-to-goodness real-life MP in the discussion. This is what I love about MeFi.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the possibilities for a hung parliament. As a Labour MP with a solid majority, you're almost definitely going to be in the Commons come May – what do you expect it to look like? Is the feeling in the party that a Lib-Lab coalition would be the next best thing to an outright majority? There seems to be a certain amount of olive-branch-offering at a leadership level.
posted by him at 4:10 AM on April 17, 2010


Happy Scottish Nationalist here -
1) reinforces our view that the two main parties are irrelevant
2) degrades Labour's two horse race crap
3) increases chance of SNP tactical vote

oh it wasn't goddamn BNP and UKIP leading fight for inclusive debate it was Plaid Cymru and the SNP thank you very much ! if you liked Clegg you would have really liked Alex Salmond up there :)
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:14 AM on April 17, 2010


Also, hi Tom! I like your website a lot better than the usual turnkey Labour MP sites :)
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:17 AM on April 17, 2010


"Last week, I met a young pensioner, who told me that fundamentalist atheists took their jobs."

"Last week, I met a hard-working burglar, who told me that benefit tourists meant the dead going unburied."

I could stay clicking on Abiezer's link all day, but back to the serious side of things I agree with Nick. I think that he was fantastic during the debate, he really engaged with the audience and made the Liberal Democrats look like a viable choice.

I think people are coming round to the idea that a hung parliament resulting in a coalition government might be in the best interests of the country.
posted by electricinca at 4:38 AM on April 17, 2010


Complete transcript of the debate.

As baggymp has said, Nick Clegg should have spoken out about DEB sooner. At the very least, he should have bothered to vote.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 2:29 PM on April 17, 2010


Charlie Brooker on Cameron.
posted by CCBC at 3:53 PM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


First past the post. God, it sucks.

Vote LibDem. Unless you are in Scotland, and want independence, in which case, arguably, you should vote Conservative. A Tory government has every reason to want Scottish Independence -- that's 59 seats in Parliament that disappear, exactly one held by a Conservative.

But Labour hates you, and Tory is all for Thatcher 2.0. In the UK, you have a real alternate vote, if you have the balls to use it. If anyone tells you to put on the clothespin and vote Labour, I humbly suggest you punch them in the face. Repeatedly.

That clothespin is why you are where you are. Stop enabling the party that only has "We're not Tory!" to offer. Maybe if you beat New Labour down, real Labour will emerge.
posted by eriko at 8:40 PM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


And this is why a third-party candidate will NEVER be allowed in the US Presidential Debates

Except that as long as the US and UK stick with FPP voting, it wouldn't matter, and you could have a jillion candidates on your dog-n-pony "debate", without disturbing the two-party state.
posted by pompomtom at 2:22 AM on April 18, 2010


"Unless you are in Scotland, and want independence, in which case, arguably, you should vote Conservative."

Or...SNP, perhaps. Given that the Tories won't win back Scottish seats any time soon.
posted by jaduncan at 2:40 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


We heard about the polls after those debates, listening to the BBC news for volcano updates. They interviewed Clegg and some Tory (shadow minister) and someone from Labour (Transportation minister?). There was no question that Clegg sounded far more sensible than the Tory. The Tory woman kept trying to word things in such a way to suggest that her ideas about what to do were new, and things that Labour wasn't doing (while they were neither). Clegg mostly agreed with the sensible things the minister was saying.

And that's what gets me about Tories. They either speak a lot of nonsense, or they say the same things as Labour, in a way that attempts to make it sound like Labour didn't already say/do/are-doing it already. Some folks I knew in the UK once told me, "We vote Tory because we're Tories". Says it all, doesn't it?
posted by Goofyy at 6:18 AM on April 19, 2010


Andrew Sullivan links to some posts about the second debate. Is it online anywhere?
posted by delmoi at 7:17 AM on April 23, 2010


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