Friday, 16 April 2010

Elections and Eruptions

Okay, so I don’t want this blog to become a political one, but this is going to be the second post running to mention the current General Election campaign.

Yesterday saw a landmark occasion in British TV and political history – the first ever Leaders Debate. The leaders of the three main political parties took part in the debate which was held in Manchester, and broadcast live to the nation on ITV. Ahead of the programme, the Conservative leader – David “call me Dave” Cameron - was seen as the likely winner, whereas expectations for the less media-friendly Gordon Brown (leader of the governing Labour Party) were much lower. When it came to the night itself, however, it was actually the leader of the third party of British politics - Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats - who blew away the opposition and emerged as the clear winner of this historic event.

Dori and I settled down to watch the debate at 8:30 last night, not entirely sure what to expect. We have both seen a number of the Presidential Debates in the US over the years, but didn’t know how the format would translate into the British political scene. The election campaign up to this point had been somewhat lacklustre and uninspiring, and there were fears that the debate would not be able to rise above the malaise. But I for one was quite surprised by how energised the programme was, and even more surprised that some actual debating was allowed to take place, and not just a series of recited Talking Points as has been seen elsewhere previously.

Gordon Brown performed, by and large, above the admittedly very low expectations, whereas David Cameron was surprisingly overshadowed and subdued and did not perform at all well. Nick Clegg, on the other hand, was a revelation, he came across as affable and he was able to make a distinction between the Lib Dems and the other two main parties. All the post-debate polls had him as the winner, with the other two leaders sharing second place depending on which poll you read. And, talking of polls, this morning revealed a further poll of people’s voting intentions which showed the Lib Dems receiving a monumental 14% bump on the back of their leader’s performance. It’s looking like the British political landscape may have changed forever. There are two more debates before Election Day on May 6th, due to take place on each of the next two Thursdays. I’ll be watching.

In other news, we are currently sitting under a cloud of volcanic ash! If you haven’t seen it on the news, an Icelandic volcano has erupted throwing up a huge plume of ash that is now sitting squarely above the UK. Due to safety fears for aircraft, there have been no flights into or out of England since early yesterday morning, and none are expected until at least 7:00 tomorrow morning, possibly longer. I was in the bank this morning, and overheard a conversation where someone was expecting visitors from overseas today who have now been told that they may not be able to get here until next Friday! Strange times indeed!

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