Friday, 16 April 2010

The First Election Debate - A Review

So last night, political history was made. For the first time all three of the main party leaders were brought together for an election debate. The audience put questions to Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Gordon Brown as they fought it out to win the votes of the public. Here is a rundown of the three opening statements.


Gordon Brown promises to protect our police, NHS and schools. He also claimed that this is the defining year in reaching a strong economy. "Get the decisions right now and we can have secure jobs, we can have standards of living rising and we can have everybody better off. Get the decisions WRONG now and we could have a double dip recession."


"I believe the way things are is not the way things have to be..." Clegg explained that we don't have to vote on 'old politics' and that our only choices are not between two old parties who have been running the country for years. "I think we have a fantastic oppertunity to do things differently for once, and if we do things differently we can create the fair society, the fair country we all want". Clegg went on to explain he believed in a fair tax system, better schools and an economy "no longer held hostage by greedy bankers." Clegg stated that the changes he would propose were all ones he believed were possible


David Cameron began his opening speech with an apology to the public over the expenses saga. He recognised that we have been let down by parliament and explained that he hoped the debate would restore some of the trust we as a society have lost in the government. He claimed that Britain can do much better. "We can deal with our debts, we can get our economy growing and avoid this jobs tax and we can build a bigger society but we can ONLY do this if we recognise we need to join together, we need to come together, we need to recognise we're all in this together." Cameron went on to recognise that Labour has done alot of good things for this country over the last 13 years but added that we need change.


Brown declared he would introduce a points system in which no unskilled worker from outside the EU can come to Britian now. Cameron acknowledged that the rate of immigration is too high and said he would like to bring it down to the tens of thousands instead of the hundreds of thousands that we have had over the last decade. He said that he would like to put in a limit on immigration and make changes so people couldn't all come over to the UK at once. But he gave no real plan of how he intended to do this. Clegg explained he wanted to restore exit controls and also wanted to only send immigrants to places where they were needed to work.

I myself like the ideas that Cameron put forward and appreciate that he recognises immigration has become out of control but as he gave no explanation of how he would make the changes I find myself siding with Clegg on this question. There is a huge pressure on housing in this country and I believe he has the right ideas to change that. I also like the idea Brown put forward about introducing a points system and recognise this to be somewhat like the ways of the Australian government but as Cameron pointed out, after 13 years of a Labour government he has only begun to get serious on this topic so whether his ideas are plausible or not is another question. The other thing I liked is while Cameron proposed we have a 'cap' on imigration Clegg pointed out that there is good immigration and Bad immigration and having a cap may prevent vitally needed doctors and people of other important occupations joining us. Cameron also did point out that we need to reform welfare as there are many of people in this country who could work but don't work drawing even more people into the country to fill the voids which I think is a very fair point.

Law and Order
Clegg and Cameron both agreed that we need more Police on our streets and Cameron claimed he thought that jail sentences are just too short to reform the characters of offenders, with many coming out of prison and reoffending. Cameron also said that he felt alot of crime was commited by drug addicts and that the government needs to act faster in getting addicts off the streets and into treatment. Clegg proposed that we need to to stop the young offenders of today becoming the hardened criminals of tomorrow and Brown suggested we need to do three things to bring crime down. Those being; effective policing on the streets, parents needing to accept responsibilty for their children and the right to take out an injunction against the police if you feel they have not done you justice. Brown also suggested we need to get young people doing useful activities such as sports and dancing and suggested we need more youth clubs to keep the kids out of trouble.

Clegg made a very good point to Cameron and Brown and this is, while his own Manifesto gave figures of what needs to be spent and how he would do it to boost the policing system, neither the Labour nor Conservative manifestos could offer this which gives the impression that they are not as serious on crime fighting as Clegg. However, Brown has been Prime Minister for a couple of years now and crime has reduced while he has been in power. I believe actions speak louder than words and so with this in mind I think Brown holds the key to a safer Britain.

Brown said he wants teachers with better qualifications and education to continue until the age of 18. He also suggested that if a school is underachieving it should be taken over by a local federation or academy to bring it to standard. Gordon Brown believes our education system should be of the highest standards and thinks we can achieve this if we vote Labour as he promises to continue to put alot of money into it.
Cameron said he wants to cut waste and put more money into the teaching rather than the furnishings. He said our education system has become bureaucratic and needs to be about opening the minds of young people and not just grades and exams. He is interested in getting as much money into the schools as possible rather than wasting it at Whitehall. He said we need to reintroduce good discipline in our schools.
Nick Clegg said he would like to introduce an education freedom act to ban the government from controlling what goes on in the classroom. He said he wants to provide schools with additional resources so they can cut class sizes to concentrate on the pupils and encourage creativity. Also after school classes for pupils struggling to keep up so that classes can move on together.

During this topic it became quite a heated argument between Brown and Cameron discussing figures and pounds. Of course our education system needs to be of higher standards but with little explanation of how he planned to achieve this, I feel Brown came out worst on this topic. I liked that Cameron brought up the fact that schools spend alot of money on furnishings and useless novelties that could be saved to boost the education but I as he wasn't dragged into any form of arguing and came out with some (I think) brilliant ideas that are definitely possible I think Nick Clegg put the other two candidates to shame. Cutting class sizes is such a simple idea but it is simply brilliant! I'm not sure the idea of an education freedom act would happen but it is something that we could use.

To conclude -
The debate did go on to discuss the armed forces and the health care system but I won't go on in this way as you all saw it and I'm sure you've all made your own opinion on who you are going to vote for by now! What I will say is that Nick Clegg brought up a great point and that is that, billions of pounds are being spent on nuclear war weapons created to wipe out full countries when there isn't enough money going into the front line. Clegg suggested that we have moved on from the days of the Cold War and spending so much money on weapons of mass destruction is unjustified in this day and age. I agree with this to a certain extent. However I can appreciate the reasoning behind this funding is to protect and defend our country.

Cameron personally thanked a lady in the audience for her service to the NHS as he himself had spent alot of time in NHS hospitals and had alot of admiration for doctors and nurses. I thought this was a nice touch and displayed his genuine side... however earlier in the debate he said he met a 40 year old man who had served in the navy for 30 years. This is either a figure mistake on his part or he was just making stuff up as he went along. I hope it's not the latter! If it is then I couldn't take anything this man says seriously.

Brown pointed out that back in 1997 there was a 2 year waiting list for an operation whereas now patients wait a maximum of 18 weeks. This is the sort of visible change Labour has made that I think needs to continue. He promises to continue to support the NHS so that these short waiting lists can be kept short and cancer patients can be diagnosed within 2 weeks.

In his closing statement Clegg stressed that we don't need to choose between two parties who "have been playing pass the parcel with our government for 65 years now". He said he believed they had gone on and on making and breaking the same promises and that now is a time for change.

Gordon Brown took a slightly more 'hip' approach to his closing statement comparing the election to Britains Got Talent and X Factor which actually made me laugh out loud. I realise he is just trying to reach out to a younger generation of voters but I think he went about it in a slightly cheap way. However he closed to say we need to secure the recovery of the economy this year and he has done alot to help get us out of the recession so I truly believe he could achieve this.

Cameron said we must choose hope over fear and that the idea we need to continue to waste money to boost the economy was wrong. He also said that for real change to happen we need a government with values and an understanding that we need to come together as a society for this change to take place. In my opinion Camerons closing statement was rather 'wishy washy' and a bit too idealistic rather than realistic. He has the ideas but no real plan of how he wants to put them into action!

So who do I vote for?

Well incase it hasn't become clear during this essay of a review I have now found myself leaning towards Liberal Democrats. The thing that has stopped me considering voting this way before is that as Clegg himself said, we are lead to believe that it is a choice between two old parties but if you keep that attitude then you are not helping to make change. Labour have been leading the country for 13 years now and yes, they have done us proud in alot of ways but they've also made many mistakes. Voting Conservative is just not an option for me. I was rather anti-conservative before the debate as I myself am from a working class background and know their manifesto doesn't do people from poor backgrounds much justice. The debate just confirmed my choice. Cameron did not serve his party well last night. He had all these wonderful ideas and was waiting to knock down Brown at every hurdle but his ideas and policies had little or no substance to them. I'm hoping for a change that will benefit every walk of life.

Time will tell...


  1. Impressive. You've got some political nous.

  2. really interesting kayleigh, i am still thinking on who i want to vote for but reading your blog has help a bit. cheers ros xx