Friday, 16 April 2010

Best of a bad bunch

In last night's leadership debate the consensus is that Nick Clegg outperformed Brown and Cameron. If you want to judge a potential Prime Minister on their body language and presentation, then Clegg probably emerged as the winner. Being the party with the least to lose, it was predictable that the Lib Dems would gain from these debates, but I was not impressed by what Clegg had to say.

He implied that the Lib Dems would do away with Trident. Yet their manifesto says they will

'rule out the like-for-like replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system. At a cost of £100 billion over a lifetime it's unaffordable and Britain's security would be better served by alternatives. We support multilateral nuclear disarmament and will ensure the UK plays a proactive role in the arms reduction talks starting later this year.'

Which means that they will continue with nuclear arms, and so won't save £100 billion. Clegg was playing the part of honest broker, yet their line on Trident is not honest.

Plaid says money should be spent on protecting the vulnerable and those on low incomes, rather than on weapons of mass destruction.

Furthermore, Clegg's views on monitoring immigration were, at best, complete nonsense and, at worst, sinister. Limiting immigrants to a certain region is not only impractical and impossible to administer but also abhorrent. He said it happens in other countries. Where? South Africa under apartheid?

Then we have the omission of any mention of Wales, Scotland or Ireland during the debate, let alone recognition of the changed political landscape outside Westminster. Brown, Cameron and Clegg had nothing to say about Wales and nothing to say to the people of Wales about devolved matters like health and education. We are of no concern to the Big Three. In Plaid we saw this coming and that's why we campaigned so hard, along with the SNP, to be included in these debates. The publicly-funded and publicly-obligated BBC chose to ignore our legitimate complaint, stifling the discussion and thereby potentially misleading voters.

So apart from Cameron showing himself to be lacking not only in substance, but also style without his baying Commons mob behind him, the other losers were all of the people living outside of England. Policies like health and education were discussed with the 'this doesn't apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland' disclaimer, but these three British politicians were answering to the people in the three and a half countries that make up Britan, without acknowledging that they were only talking about England.

In recent weeks, too many people have said of politicians 'they're all the same'. They all looked the same last night. I hope on May 6th people will 'think different'.


Ian Titherington said...

Absolutely spot on. Not only are the Lib Dems less than honest about their position on nuclear weapons, but their stance on trade unions is also of huge concern. If they want scrutiny, then they've got it.

The Armchair Liberal said...

Leanne, I cannot share your assertion that Plaid should have a platfrom in the UK leaders' debates. They do not, and cannot, aspire to lead the next UK Government. What interest are the people of Scotland and England going to have in devolved Welsh affairs?

As a party that is exclusively Wales-focused, it is both appropriate and proportionate that IWJ takes part in the BBC's Wales debate, but not be given a UK platform. It is that debate where issues pertinent to Wales can be raised.

In any case, the minority parties are enjoying a much higher profile as an indirect consequence of these debates, Plaid and the SNP included.

As least we can agree that Clegg outperformed the other two, although for differing reasons. As someone who has been out of touch and disillusioned with politics for a very long time, Clegg's performance has reinvigorated my interest considerably.

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Sam Coates said...

I agree completely that Clegg is trying to have it both ways on a number of issues. Greens, like Plaid are open about the fact that we would scrap it and not try and get away with saying we would scrap Trident at the same time as labelling oneself as 'multilateralist', it's a loud of nonsense.

Also, the allegations that he helped RBS lobby for weak regulation in Europe, combined with the party's dirty campaigning are a million miles away from his image of being clean and wanting to ban big money from politics.

Sam Coates said...

Just read your comment Ian, Jenny Rathbone didn't mention the actions of Network Rail at all when denouncing the strike and Kirsty William's attitude to the PCS strike is worrying. These examples should serve to remind people that the Lib Dems are not left in any sense.

Sam Coates said...

excuse me, I meant Jenny Randerson!!