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Right. Scrap all I was going to say. I just gauged some reactions from various people's statuses on Facebook, and here is my two cents on the First Election Debate; history has been made...
Firstly, the comment that most provoked this unforeseen reaction in me was "politics turned theatre is a joke" - erm...excuse me, but all politics is theatre, played out on the world stage with people who try every day to convince us that their point of view and their policies deserve our backing. And there is no doubt that a huge amount of acting (and manipulation) goes into this - just take a look at the Lib Dems for the past, say, two general elections. They talk about winning and about what they would do, but they knew deep down, as we did, that they never really had a shot at power.
What we saw in tonight's debate is something quite extraordinary - the third main party in our electoral system got a fair platform from which to challenge the others and to push forward their own agenda - and, most importantly, in a way that was accessible to the whole electorate. All too often the Lib Dems get shooed into the corner because no one really believes their policies are worth serious airtime. And I think it worked very much in their favour. Early polls suggest Nick Clegg was seen as the 'winner' of tonight's debate, and I really hope that this (and the other two debates left), firstly, helps encourage more people to register to vote and, secondly, ensures people seriously consider the political choices they have before them - it doesn't have to be just 'red or blue'.
Just two more quick points -
Considering how the debates might fit overall into the bigger picture, there is a danger that those who have made up their voting minds won't now be swayed one way or the other by a few television performances. I don't know what the viewing figures for tonight are, but I genuinely hope enough of the 'floating voters' watched it to get some sense of political perspective.
However, my biggest fear is that, actually, not enough people really give a shit. The apathy of the general public frustrates me beyond belief. A lot of my friends tend to be quite blasé about elections and the like, and what frustrates me most is not the blatant disregard for the future of this country, but the fact that so many people don't bother to exercise one of the most fundamental human rights that this country's citizens are entitled, and almost privileged, to have. (I say 'almost' because a 'right', by its very nature, is not a 'privilege' as such.)
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Lamest quote of the night came from Cameron: "Choose hope over fear."