Prelude to 2nd UK Debate

The second debate is coming up today, focused on foreign policy, here's a good overview. The neocons here in the states have awoken to the possibility that Nick Clegg is destroying their dreams of a conservative re-birth in the UK.

See the neocon melt-down on dispay at NRO, on The Weekly Standard, and Am Con Mag. Andrew Sullivan with the point that "Clegg is pretty much in the Euro-mainstream on Israel. Which is to say: about as anti-neocon as you can get." He wonders if Clegg couldn't win this outright the way things are moving. Can that happen?  Depends on what  "outright" means. A majority of the vote?  Yes, but of Parliament?  Very unlikely.

As for the Tories themselves, they enter full denial, and point toward Labour as the loser. This is a funny sort of opps article, about some Lib Dem debate notes that were left in a cab. Another broadside toward Clegg, who takes it in stride. They've ignored the Lib Dems forever, now attack attack attack!!! Should be a very interesting debate today; time for a bit of pundit advice. The debate is at 8 pm in the UK, so 3 pm est.

Tags: GE 2010 (all tags)

Comments

8 Comments

Different system

If I understand correctly, this is the first time in UK history the party leaders have had this kind of televised debate in advance of an election.  It feels familiar to us because we've had presidential debates for a long time, but the actual electoral impact in the UK appears to be a mystery.

Because the UK has a parliamentary system, only a small fraction of the population will actually have an opportunity to vote for Nick Clegg or any of the other party leaders.  Instead they'll be voting on a slate of local candidates.

The best analogy is if Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner had a big televised debate about their respective party agendas.  It would move the needle somewhat, but how much would it affect people's decision to re-elect their local Congressperson?  Hard to say.  For some reason, it's hard for some Internet activists to grasp that not everyone sees their local Congressional ballot as a choice between two national ideological agendas.

There is one other phenomenon about this election that is not new, and that is the mentality that other countries' elections are all about us.  Andrew Sullivan may be completely correct that Clegg's preference for a less exceptional US-Britain relationship reflects an emerging consensus among the British people, but how many voters will really go to the polls and vote for their local MP based primarily upon the type of relationship they want Britain to have with the US?  As usual, the vast majority of people will vote based upon kitchen-table issues and the like, and yet our pundits will obsess over what the election results tell us about changing British attitudes towards the US.

by Steve M 2010-04-22 12:25PM | 0 recs
RE: Different system

The best analogy is if Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner had a big televised debate

Maybe they should.

It would move the needle somewhat, but how much would it affect people's decision to re-elect their local Congressperson?  Hard to say.  For some reason, it's hard for some Internet activists to grasp that not everyone sees their local Congressional ballot as a choice between two national ideological agendas.

In the UK though MPs are not necessarily as powerful as in the US. Diverging from the party leadership is pretty rare. Other than the members of cabinet most of them have little loyalty from their constituents.

by vecky 2010-04-22 12:49PM | 0 recs
RE: Different system

The case has been made that we are moving closer to a parliamentary system in this country, only a lot of the voters don't realize it yet, and persist in believing that it makes a difference whether their Member of Congress is a personally decent individual or whatever.

Having said that, I find it hard to believe that personal qualities and political skill aren't very important factors in local British elections, even given the realities of the parliamentary system.

by Steve M 2010-04-22 04:59PM | 0 recs
RE: Different system

Well maybe they are and it's simply that the brits have a different standard for both compared to the US. 

But the Brits are moving more towards an American system, the London Mayoral race a couple of years ago being the first evidence of that I think.

by vecky 2010-04-22 05:13PM | 0 recs
Oh dear

Brown just called Nick Clegg "Anti-American" (on the way to calling Cameron anti-European). To which Clegg responded - 'Britain should not be Americas poodle' (not quite the same words). Touche.

by vecky 2010-04-22 03:41PM | 0 recs
RE: Oh dear

Brown seems a bit like a Hound Dog, Cameron like a Labordoodle... I don't think that Clegg is as dominating in this round. Seems to be trying a bit too much at times.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-22 03:53PM | 0 recs
immigration

Clegg did well on this issue. Here we go with the big pitches, closing statement:

Brown-- comes off as a bit nasty at the end, noting big picture, rambling with issues... a bit desperate, which is what Cameron pointed out. Cameron making the pitch that 13 years of Labour means its his turn, better than Brown, 'clean break' is his sale; and Clegg, do things differently, lead, shape the world. His "act different" message, "do something different". Its basically Cameron and Clegg arguing over who is the change agent, while Brown is out of the picture.


Nice closer by Clegg: "Don't let anyone tell you it can't be different. It can."

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-22 04:32PM | 0 recs
RE: immigration

Yes, of all the three parties the lib dems have the most liberal/progressive position on immigration. And we can safely write off their 'regional quotas' idea as a sop to the right without any real practical effect.

I think Clegg did well, bbc's interview with Clegg is also worth a watch:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8616816.stm

by vecky 2010-04-22 05:47PM | 0 recs

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