Opinion – Cameron veto throws UK election debate plans into chaos – Yahoo News UK – Rodney Willett

I thank Dr Alf for sharing this article and publishing my viewpoint.

First things first,  what is the point of these television debates? DO we really honestly believe that whether leader “A” has a bad headache that day and so comes over as rubbish (or, turning that on its head, leader “B” has fortified him/herself with some suitable substance and comes over as fantastic) is the right way to decide which political party should rule the country for the nest five years or so. Contrary to popular opinion I think not. What will be demonstrated is that certain people have the ability to cope with trick questions better than others, and that some are quicker thinking than others. One of the men I knew who was a large influence in my political thinking would never answer any question without giving himself time to think. Sometimes the gaps were almost embarrassing – and would have come over on the television as being indecisive and slow-witted – but what followed was pure gold. There is, of course, the story of the Zulu chief (whose name I fear I have forgotten) who was forced into a position to negotiate with the British army following a defeat in the Zulu wars. Fearing that the man’s outspoken style would make matters even worse, his advisers persuaded him to put a large pebble in his mouth and to remove it only when he had something to say and replace it immediately afterwards. That way, they explained to him. you will ensure you have time to think before you speak. So – for starters: no debates, please, we’re British.

One thing the debates demonstrated in 2010 is that they are by nature to the disadvantage of the incumbent. Many decisions have to be taken where the answers are by no means straight forward and a whole host of compromises have to be made in order to take those decisions. These are often difficult to explain in a slow and measured debate and impossible on television. Thus the person defending an action is forced to take in headline terms when the subject really demands deep consideration. We see the result of this on programmes such as Question Time. Meanwhile it is incredibly easy for the others to put forward policies which sound attractive (but are riddled with problems) knowing that there is no possibility of such policies being tested during the programme.

In passing, I would also mention that I believe we should be ruled by some system of representative democracy (basically the one we have with a few modifications) and not by the media.

If I were Cameron, I would have nothing to do with them – the empty seat could stand as my announcement that I do not believe it is in the UK democracy’s best interests to behave as if were a presidential democracy. We are not.

Rodney Willett

One response

  1. Dr Alf brings us this powerful and well considered response from Rodney Willett which in many ways I have sympathy for.

    Sadly we live in a televisual age and the UK population does not have the ability as a whole to think as carefully and thoroughly as Rodney Willett,nor do they have much capacity for hearing the truth even though they constantly demand it.

    The debates I think are here to stay because having come from America they have now become part of people’s psyches and part of our culture.

    We live in a very dangerous world where like Julius Caesar who said that he “Judged the brains of a man by the brains of those around him”,foreign leaders are evaluating what passes for leadership in the country.

    From our adversaries and strategic competitors that judgement is harsh,the Chinese say privately that Western leaders with the exception of Angela Merkel are “Children playing in a sandpit”,Vladimir Putin,the old cold warrior and chess player wrongfoots us at every turn by masking his true intentions and testing NATO’s willingness to go the distance.

    The Debates offer the great unwashed and the more discerning an opportunity to see our supposed future leaders in action within the context of a controlled debate.

    This will be infinitely less challenging than dealing with Xi and Vladimir Putin who between them have 7 million cyber warriors to our 8000 and are increasing military spending by 11% a year while we are cutting our Tri Forces down to the size of the Papal Guard.

    Militarily we are weak,we have just 3% energy generation capacity with a rising population,insufficient exports and a balance of payments situation of substantial deficit (£30 billion gbp a year) since 1981.

    We have a problem with radicalised Islam and traitors and seditionists drawn from that community in our midst that the authorities are not prepared to do anything meaningful about.

    In addition we are not self sufficient in food and are presiding over a situation under which the City of London will be 4th in the world by 2016 once Hong Kong and Singapore overtake New York in 2016.

    If our leaders ,actual and prospective cannot handle a simple debate and answer questions enabling viewers to evaluate economic and strategic competence based on controlled questions then when faced with tough leaders like Xi and Putin they will to quote the “Donald” ,find that the Chinese and the Russians have “eaten their lunch”.

    We have already seen Natalie Bennett fail to answer questions about housing put by Nick Ferrari on LBC and we have the economically illiterate Ed Miliband fail to mention the deficit and fail to understand that controls on landlords would not create more housing.

    A debate would unearth more issues and demonstrate who was most out of touch with reality and who had at least SOME answers.

    It would also show who could answer questions under controlled pressure.

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