In what is supposed to be the era of all conquering spin, has it struck you how completely crap are the speeches, slogans and media opportunities in this election campaign? Even before we turn to the quality of “debate”. Great to see that the BBC have the guts to run Have I Got News for You? through the election. Im just listening to the gentle piss-taking analysis in a Clive Anderson show on Radio 4 called The Heckler ( not up yet on iPlayer)>. With self consciousness like this reaching new heights, real communication is near impossible. I think of Obama type rallies and dismiss the thought. No Obama is around. Mind you, oldies like me fondly remember Harold Wilson in the Birmingham Bull Ring. He was pretty good, carefully timing his heckling replies for the moment the live cameras came on to him in the News. The handlers wouldn’t dare risk that these days. In The Heckler the popular philosopher Alain de Botton has just blamed us voters for putting the pols in an impossible dilemma: to be special and solve all problems on the stump, and at the same time to pretend to be even more ordinary than we are. Behind the phoney debates, tactical manoeuvring is as big an issue in that other election over where you are.To stop the Tories running away with it, Labour and Lib Dems have to fight each other but not too hard. Andrew Adoniss plea for a Lib Lab pact is not hard to understand, just as is Nick Cleggs rebuff to avoid a squeeze. Vince Cable has the personal authority to mount the sort of ferocious attack New Labour with its pro -business history cant afford to make but would love to, on nauseating Big Business for slamming the National Insurance hike. The call for a Treasury of National Unity is electioneering in the same vein and strengthens the Lib Dems position for serious influence in a hung parliament. But with whom in No 10? I cant see the Lib Dems risking support for a minority Labour government unless its a photo finish. Even then the psychology is problematical. If Labour loses its majority after 13 years the pressure to give the other guys a chance is all but irresistible. Tory instincts over cuts chime with Vince’s appalling frankness on the same theme. Meanwhile BBC Economics Editor Stephanie Flanders has been to Dublin to raise the spectre of what cuts really mean. Her report puts all that nonsense about £12 billion spending cuts alongside tiny tax breaks in perspective.
(Brian Lenihan) thinks the UK is probably expecting too much from the fall in the pound, and he thinks that whoever wins the next election will almost certainly have to cut popular benefits.
Stephanie referred to Brians pancreatic cancer and watching the interview, his bravery and composure after so many months of heavy pressure was very impressive.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London