29 Mar 2010

A Superb Show That We will Reap Little Benefit from

In spite of what was considered on Twitter, The Guardian and Channel 4 opinion polls as a resounding success for Vince Cable, the BBC has seized control of the agenda once again by almost completely ignoring the Liberal Democrats.

I am watching Newsnight at the moment, and the generally stated that there are only a few occasions during the Ask The Chancellors Debate that the audience came to life, and showed the only clip where the audience came to life over something that Alistair Darling said as opposed to the other four times the audience burst into rounds of applause when Vince Cable spoke.

They are now showing clips of the bickering between Darling and Osborne.

Finally 10 minutes in, the BBC stated that Cable gained the most audience popularity.

An Analysis of the Transcribe

Cable's opening statement was a clear win for the Liberal Democrats, as he correctly identified the Liberal Democrats warned about the financial collapse and introduced the larger audience to the Liberal Democrats plan to increase the basic tax rate to £10,000.

The first question made me think that Cilla Black was about to emerge from behind a screen and start shrilly proclaiming to the audience what a wonderful evening tonight would be.

"What personal qualities do you have that would make you a better chancellor than your counterparts?"

Again Cable came out as the dominating force, identifying that he'd predicted the economic crash and illustrating how his policies have been embraced by the government to try and improve things.

In sharp comparison, Osborne could not provide any practical examples. From a Human Resources point of view, he immediately had lost points on the "interview". As one canny tweeter observed, "His only experience is managing his family Trust Fund".

Question two is a straightforward "what needs to be cut".

As per the dominating headlines, Darling talks about cutting the debt while Osborne informs us that he's told us what they going to come (even though they haven't). Again, in sharp comparison, Vince Cable is able to identify £50 million worth cuts including Triton and ID cards.

The show begins to get going here, with a little of the bickering going on between Darling and Osborne, then Cable interjects with a cutting remark that the Tory cuts announced today are entirely fictional.

Questioned three is with regards to the NHS, which many activists will know is the number one topic when campaigning.

Osborne immediately launches into a political farce of not answering the question, instead buffering himself with "David Cameron's pledge" to protect the NHS.

Darling then seems to follow Osborne's cue, failing to answer the question and stating that the Labour Party have also pledged to protect NHS funding.

Cable then makes them both appear to be completely amateur, stating "it would be "totally irresponsible" for any of them to give cast-iron guarantees about the NHS".

Public sector pensions, a bit of a "Daily Fail" topic, forms the fourth question.

The Tory proposal of a £50,000 a year pension the senior public sector employees is hilarious when you consider the pension and "golden handshake" payoffs given to members of parliament not to mention peerages!

Darling commits an equivalent faux pas by, as Osborne points out, discussing the future as though his party had not held office for 13 years.

As the two major parties descend into secondary school bickering, Cable makes sensible remarks, commenting on the need to reform, the scandalous current situation and the need for cross-party consensus.

Discussing projected rises on income tax and national insurance, the petty bickering continues while Cable states the Lib Dems would cut income tax for many people.

Question six seemed so cleverly interwoven, that one cannot imagine that these questions were selected at random, and targets the the risks of people leaving the country if taxes change.

While the Tory and Labour parties quote their usual rhetoric, Cable received a round of applause for stating;

"Britain is being "held to ransom" by bankers threatenign to flee to Switzerland. In the 1970s Britain was held to ransom by Arthur Scargill. Now we have got these "pin-striped Scargills"."

Leading smoothly into question seven about bankers' bonuses, Cable states that the Liberal Democrats had always supported a bank tax, where is the two other parties had originally ruled this out. Why?

The final question, about students being unable to find jobs and buy houses turned into a fairly heated debate between Osborne and Darling and there is no opportunity for Cable to identify so many of the key policies that the Liberal Democrats hold in this field.

The Tragic Overreaching Conclusions

I know that I'm going to be slightly biased towards Vince Cable, I openly admit to being a liberal. But I cannot comprehend how anyone could watch the same programme that I watched and see anything good in what George Osborne presented, and although Alistair Darling projected a fairly comprehensive argument, it seemed very evident that Vince Cable was the overall winner.

And yet as I type this (or, yes, dictate this, if you want to be picky), there is a furore on Twitter about Michael Crick MP fervently insisting that George Osborne was a clear-cut winner within the Ask The Chancellors Debate.

And all of a sudden all of those united liberal dreams of the Party Leader Debates to come in May doing the Liberal Democrat party fantastic good, come crashing down around my ears.

The ultimate cause of all this appears to be the media. With the BBC Radio 4 Today Program establishing an agenda from which the majority of political software tools draw from on a daily basis and Newsnight deliberating whatever it chooses to hear, the battle to get the Liberal Democrat voice heard in the public domain seems a futile.

But on a positive note, we can continue to do what we do best. Which is making the most of volunteers and loyal supporters, continuously spreading the word on the anyways we can find, from leaflet drops to tweeting and blogging, and hope that one day message gets through.

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