Libertarian. Enjoys politics, technology, music, food and drink.
I’ve just gotten round to watching the Chancellors’ Debate from Channel 4 last night. The first thing I liked about this potentially boring debate (for economics are hardly the most gripping subjects for public debate) was how relaxed it was. Considering the number of rules that the three main debates have set up, it looks like there’ll be a very rigid format for those ‘debates’. Last night’s C4 programme however, allowed for instant rebuttals and comebacks where necessary; perhaps surprising was that the three were very modest in this allowance. Most of the time, they rarely interjected, or spoke over one another, which I imagine was the fear in setting the rules for the main debates.
As for what they were saying, I’d find it hard to find a definite ‘winner’ as such of the debate. I agreed with George Osborne more so than I did with anyone else, but there was quite alot of universal agreement, and seeming bipartisan support for a lot of topics, that there didn’t seem to be room for a winner.
Of the three, I thought Alastair Darling fared the worst, no matter what his argument about efficiency, cuts, and bank control, as Osborne kept attacking him for: they’ve had thirteen years to sort this out.
Vince Cable in general was good, certainly the funniest of the three, though he was in the position to do so. He was also the only one who pointed out the danger that stupidly high taxes have on individuals potentially leaving the country, shame the argument couldn’t have been made from Osborne about bank taxes, on the contrary he called for the most regulation on the banks. My two thoughts on the Tory bank tax are: firstly the argument that Cable pointed out – the fear that they could leave to set up business elsewhere, though second, as Osborne defended, its likely other international governments will soon be under instruction from the IMF to do the same. The bank tax is surely a vote grab amongst those with contempt for the banks, of which in this country there are many, and so if it will soon be international policy, why not propose it as policy and get those extra votes. Osborne’s planned National Insurance reversal can only be a good thing, and I think his arguments bettered either Cable’s or Darling’s. I was also pleased to see Osborne reiterate that you cannot rely on the public sector for jobs, business creates jobs, the private sector is what needs to be encouraged, not the public sector; perhaps there is some Tory blood in him after all.
Most questions from the audience I thought were rather banal, and it slightly annoys me in debates such as this that the judges don’t just ask all the questions themselves. They would ask the same questions, just with more depth and knowledge. The student question was one of the most interesting, and while I wasn’t expecting the best answer to come from Osborne, strangely it did; retraining, apprenticeships, further education, and of course the Tory support for small business, certainly fared better than either argument from the others.
To return to Vince Cable for a moment: his modesty, when one audience member incorrectly denounced the three potential chancellors for not seeing the recession before it happened, spoke volumes about his character, and I doubt either Darling or Osborne in his position would have took it.
Overall it was an interesting piece of television, I didn’t learn anything from it, and it didn’t change my mind at all, but interesting nonetheless. I’ll be interested to see polling on this, particularly amongst previously undecideds. Most of the introductory and closing statements were free of much memorable rhetoric, except Osborne’s “you decide whether you want to change your country.”
As Benedict Brogan rightly predicted, this election’s heating up, and that’s a great thing.