Having decided to watch the Leaders’ Debate out of morbid curiosity a couple of things stood out…
Let’s start with the Lib Dems. Nick Clegg doesn’t represent change, he’s a charlatan. The measure of his hypocrisy was exposed by the discussion about his Trident policy when compared with the discussion about an immigration cap proposed by the Conservatives.
Clegg wants to scrap Trident but is incapable of saying what cheaper alternative he would deploy and how much it would cost, because a review would be needed to determine the appropriate system. Yet he tried to score points off David Cameron for taking an identical approach about an immigration cap as Cameron would not provide an arbitrary cap figure, because a wide ranging review with a variety of services and bodies would need to be conducted each year.
So Clegg is saying that Lib Dem plans for reviews then decisions are a sound approach, but Conservative plans for reviews then decisions make a policy unworkable. How is this new politics or any different from the ‘old’ two parties? While on the subject of the ‘old’ two parties, it’s about time Clegg was reminded that the Liberal Party existed long before Labour and a few name changes have not made it a different party entity. History and fact checking are clearly not his strong point.
Clegg spent so much time telling the audience about EU failings and mismanagement, it defies belief that he wants Britain to be more entwined in it. He tries to make the EU sound like a well meaning club of kindly amateurs, stumbling along as best they can and making a few chuckle raising howlers as they go along. It ain’t so. The EU is an anti democratic, managerialist machine and its failures stem from its determination to eradicate national sovereignty and draw all power to itself. Clegg was trained by the EU and nurtured in its ways and his claim that the EU can be reformed is a naked deception.
On to Labour. Gordon Brown is an economic illiterate. It is a terrifying thought that this man spent a decade as Chancellor. No wonder the economy is in the state it’s in today. This man has wrecked our nation’s finances.
Reducing the tax burden on businesses and individuals does not take money out of the economy. By definition, if the money remains in our pockets and business bank accounts, it is still in the economy. It doesn’t disappear into a hole never to be seen again – which it would if it was sequestrated by the Treasury.
As for Gordon Brown’s inability to tell the truth, being exposed as a bare faced liar in such a devastating manner just moments after the debate ended can only reduce his stock still further. It was the moment of the night seeing Wee Alex Salmond – after Brown denied he has sanctions Labour leaflets carrying false claims about Conservative policy – holding up Brown’s personal election literature as distributed in Kirkcaldy. It was a leaflet Brown had to have personally endorsed and it carried the claim Brown states he did not sanction that the Conservatives would get rid of the winter fuel allowances, free bus passes, free eye tests, etc.
Brown is also incapable of understanding the concept of net migration – or is deliberately deceiving the public. Having one million Britons living in other EU states and one million EU member state citizens living in Britain does absolutely nothing to alter the horrendous net immigration figure. A net inward migration figure of 200,000 is the figure over and above the number of people who have left the UK in the same time period. If 150,000 people have left that means 350,000 migrants have come in. Not only does this mean huge extra burden on services and infrastructure, it also means a massive change in the social fabric of this country.
Lastly, the Conservatives. We know David Cameron is supposed to be a polished performer. But he fails to inject spark into his speaking. With these debates he is on a hiding to nothing.
The more Cameron strives to emphasise difference between the three parties, the more it becomes clear they are trivialities rather than matters of great substance.
Europe (more precisely the EU) will remain a thorn in Cameron’s side because while he is happy to reel off a list of reasons for us to cooperate with our neighbours on the continent, not one example of a supposed benefit he, or Clegg or Brown provides to justify EU membership, requires a nation to sacrifice its political sovereignty.
Why will no one pin these main three parties down – and particularly the Conservatives who trade on a platform of supposed EU scepticism – with a simple question that exposes the weakness of their position on the EU? Namely, ‘what benefit or advantage of EU membership and cooperation would be lost if we in the UK had complete political sovereignty, made all our own laws and ensured our own courts were the judicial venues of last resort?
Going beyond that, when will someone pin the Conservatives down, and the other two parties for that matter, by asking why they keep talking about the EU as a free trade area when it is nothing more than a customs union? The EU is a hindrance to the UK being able to trade freely with countries around the world, so how can it be a benefit? The debate is devoid of honesty and candour. It is characterised by subterfuge and fear and it shouldn’t be.
So, the final analysis. Nothing any of the party leaders has been reported to have said in the first Leaders’ Debate, and nothing I saw them say in this Leaders’ Debate, has changed my view of the parties. I have not been moved one inch towards voting for any of them. The discussion about immigration was dumbed down to such an extent a five year old would have felt patronised. There is a consensus stitch up where these three main parties will not tread onto ground the public needs them to.
From Clegg’s approach of giving up and granting a ludicrous amnesty that rewards people who have broken the law of this land to live here, to Brown’s tough talk and promises of action to contain immigration – despite documentary evidence that open door migration was deliberately implemented for political ideological purposes – to Cameron’s cap on non-EU immigration which will have no effect in reducing the number of unskilled EU migrants arriving here, the required action is not on offer. And of course no alternative to EU membership and the loss of national sovereignty is on offer.
This means the debates remain an exercise in obfuscation and deception, satisfying only the media’s insatiable appetite for something to report, spin and hype. How does that serve the interests of the nation and its people? The new politics that was promised has not been delivered. What is required is a genuine conservative alternative to the centre ground mish mash that dominates the discourse of the political class and its cowardice in tackling major issues. Only when a sensible conservative alternative exists will mainstream politics be worthy of our engagement.