The Television Election Debate 2015
With a UK General Election looming, there was an often heated live television debate last night featuring seven of the eight main party political leaders. The Northern Ireland candidates were snubbed.
Their opening comments.
Ed Milliband (Labour), sounded like he was about to start singing Harry Secombe’s If I Ruled The World as he promised to make everything lovely again, reducing taxation, healing the ailing National Health Service, etc. He was just short of offering free lollipops for all.
Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) opened with quite viscous attacks on David Cameron, (outgoing Conservative Prime Minister) making it clear that the Liberals are now an opposition party and the alliance is now truly dissolved – it came across as a very bitter divorce.
Nigel Farrage (UKIP) started out as xenophobically he would carry on, seeing an end to immigration and Britain’s withdrawal from the EEC as an easy solution to everything.
Natalie Bennett (Green Party) made it clear that her party will crush Cameron’s extreme austerity measures and apply tax to the rich rather than the poor.
Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru – Wales) had a similar position to the Greens, while Nicola Sturgeon managed to show that while representing Scottish interests, her stance would be of great importance to the rest of the UK too.
Though open to questions from the audience, the two hour debate left less than half an hour to just four questions, on tax, health, Immigration, and the future for school leavers. There was nothing on foreign policy or defence, much to the frustration of a heckler who was angered by poor compensation for our wounded war heroes.
Cameron was quickly cornered for not stopping company hedge funds and offshore tax havens. Milliband frequently challenged him for talking of his past successes instead of focusing on the future.
Cameron made it clear that he is carrying on as he has for the previous five years as if everyone was happy with it all in a MacMillan why can’t you see you’ve never been better off stance that seemed out of touch with reality.
Milliband made an emphatic promise to kill the Bedroom Tax. Cameron repeatedly cited a manifesto mantra to save a £1.00 in every £100 of public spending to fund his measures.
Farrage attacked foreign nationals for using the UK NHS as health tourists. He was quickly shot down over this and rightly, as we need the expertise of international doctors, workers, etc. He would be reminded more than once that people are not coming to Britain for free health treatment but to work and receive an education.
Cameron seemed convinced that the NHS is in fine fettle despite cutbacks even delaying essential cancer care.
Clegg promised to elevate mental health care to the same vale as physical health care. His flat denial of the Alliance promoting the further privatization of the NHS’s services drew strong derision and disbelief from the SNP candidate.
Farrage really showed his true nature by claiming most immigrants in Britain are from Communist Countries and that we are spending more money on treating foreign AIDS sufferers than our own nationals who have AIDS. Leanne Wood’s simple retort that he should be ashamed of himself drew the strongest audience applause of the night. She clearly saw dealing with sickness of any kind as a purely human service to offer all, regardless of nationality.
Milliband accused Cameron of breaking his election promises in the outgoing Parliament and told him that he can never be trusted again. Cameron failed to reply or react to this. Milliband assured potential voters that Labour will be tougher on immigration, particularly those unable or unwilling to talk English.
Leanne Wood was emphatic that her party will in no way demonize foreign national immigrants. Nicola Sturgeon complained about how much of the debate was influenced by the scare-mongering tactics of Farrage’s far right policies. Cameron also promised to tighten the immigration entrance.
Clegg wants to restrict immigrants who might abuse the welfare system but to welcome those who can support Britain’s businesses. Natalie Bennett pointed out that Britain’s crisis in health, education, housing, etc., is down to bad government and in no way to be continually blamed on immigrants.
Cameron repeatedly claimed that a UKIP vote was a back-door vote for Labour, insinuating a link or potential alliance between the parties, which Milliband was quick to dismiss as utterly unrealistic.
Farrage is for our withdrawal from the EEC, which Leanne Wood was quick to oppose as she feels Wales benefits particularly well from the European Union. Clegg impressively told Farrage off for seeing every migrant entering the UK as a menace. Natalie Bennett pointed out that lives matter more than economics.
Most of the parties are pro-European Alliance, except UKIP who are openly opposed, and many Tories (though at least openly), not Cameron. The issue would have to go to a National public referendum.
On the future for the young, Leanne Wood pointed out that she hopes Welsh university students will get to study in Wales where they can benefit from her government’s policies as Plaid Cymru will be restricted in what support protection they can offer them if studying elsewhere in the UK.
Milliband promises emphatically to demolish zero hours employment contracts and reduce university tuition fees. The Greens aim to reduce tuition fees to zero.
Farrage started out by criticising the wealthy for getting the cream of education, but soon brought himself back to attacking migrants again.
Cameron and Milliband turned on each other over economic spending until reminded by Leanne Wood that they were now supposed to be talking about education. She also assured the distressed heckler that she at least was hearing her concerns.
With Milliband repeating his promise to wipe out zero hours contracts, Leanne Wood pointed out that Labour itself employs people on such contracts and that Labour voted in favour of zero hours successfully in a vote on the issue against Plaid Cymru in Wales, so his promise should not be trusted.
Candidates were invited to sum their policies up succinctly as the debate drew to a close. The SNP said emphatic no to austerity policy, and yes to improved spending.
Clegg stated that the economy was now a matter of making the accounts books balance.
Milliband simply promised to fix everything.
Plaid Cymru were as opposed to austerity measures as their Scottish cousins.
The Greens promised a peaceful revolution, suggesting we stop voting between the lesser of two evils (Labour & Conservative).
Farrage retained his extremist stance on immigration, calling on everyone to put patriotism first.
Cameron simply promised business as usual and to continue as he has in the past five years.
The ladies of Wales, Scotland and The Green Party were the real heroes of the debate for me, with a voice of compassion & common sense as opposed to standard politico-speechifying. Clegg came over as a bitter divorcee, while Cameron seemed unwilling to see anything amiss with the policies he has already introduced such as Austerity Measures. Milliband was sounding like a shrill unconvincing magic pixie promising to sort out all that ails us, and Farrage was simply despicable; a bad game show host, sneering, condescending and in trying to shock everyone with bogus immigrations taking over everything claims, rather frightening too.
While I am seriously considering voting Green, I really found myself wishing my Manchester, England vote could be used in Scotland or Wales after this.
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