Thursday, 15 April 2010

Debates on TV and Local to You

At the start of the Arnold Vinnick v Matt Santos debate in the final season of The West Wing Arnie while answering the first question says 'let's throw away the rule book and have a real debate'. I don't think that is going to happen tonight in the first of three Prime Ministerial debates on ITV, although I suspect that anyone brave enough to do so might just swing the vote in their favour. Instead we have the 76 rules to govern the three men who sek to be the next Prime Minister.

The thing is unless you live in Sheffield Hallam, Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath or Witney you don't have an actual vote on any of those three. Of course I'm hoping that many people vote for Nick Clegg, John Mainland and Dawn Barnes in those three seats. Unlike in America where there is an elected president our Prime Minister is by in large the leader of the largest party equivalent to America's Congress.

But many of the people who are voting in Linlithgow and East Falkirk have been asking me what I think about certain issues. I know that they also have been asking the other candidates, but this so far is all behind closed doors via email or on their doorsteps.

But there is a sense that you can be in the debates, local hustings take place all across the country of the people who are contesting to be your MP. I only know of one so far in Linlithgow and East Falkirk of 2 May at 7:30 in St. Michael's Kirk Hall Linlithgow, but I will keep you informed of others.

If you want a review of the hustings last time here are the words of my Labour opponent last time on the opening day debate of the last Parliament.

"In my constituency, we had debates on the hustings, and the general tenor was respectful and humorous. At the end of the day, we all felt our opponents had not dropped into the positions that some of the national leaders of the parties did as they conducted the election. Our electorate appreciated that. The question is: how we did it. Even the Conservative candidate had been against the Iraq war in the public prints for a number of years, so everyone on our platform was against the war and we all had things to say about it. I am sure I shall have things to say about it here in future."

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