Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Campaign Diary Day 13 - Five Way Debate

RTE held a 5-way debate between the leaders of the main parties on their Frontline programme. After rushing home from canvassing and a quick campaign meeting, I was hoping for some fireworks. Unfortunately the whole thing went off like a damp squib.

Firstly, the format of the entire event was poorly thought out. The audience questions, while a nice touch to give the election a human face, were pretty obvious and so allowed the participants to ream off pre-prepared material, often dodging the one specific that had been asked. Then Pat's restatement of the question to suit his particular slant didn't help much either. Finally having five debaters means that at different times people are going to miss out when there is an open goal just due to not being brought in until the moment has passed. Think of how many times and answer began with something like "before I get to that, I'd just like to return to something Fred said a minute ago"?

As for the leaders' performances, lets work left to right across the stage.

John Gormley actually acquitted himself well when I was expecting a bit of a meltdown. His continued use of electoral reform as the panacea for all Ireland's ills did get a bit boring though. His biggest problem was the lack of interaction with any of the other leaders. They have already written the Greens off and so pretty much ignored Gormley except when absolutely necessary.

Eamon Gilmore did much better than in the TV3 debate. He took off the kid gloves and got stuck into both Kenny and Martin on occasion. He had a chance to floor Kenny on the growth rates but he let the moment pass. For periods of time he did seem to step back and let the other four dominate the discussion but when he was involved it was clear and precise.

Enda Kenny, having landed the middle desk, didn't overly impress but didn't make any major blunders either. Like Gormley, his repeating of the same point, in this case "The Fine Gael party has a five point plan" got a bit tiring. Also his body language towards the end showed someone who as uncomfortable to be there - slouching and hands in pockets is never a good look.

Micheál Ó'Mairtín again displayed his prowess as a debater and points scorer but was leveled a few times by the Rip Van Winkle line. While he thought it was ironic for SF to be giving out about fraud, he happily seemed to forget his own parties murky history in that regard. Solid performance but won't have won any votes.

Gerry Adams, way out on the end, will be happy with his performance. After the 2007 farce he has obviously been well trained and got his points across well. His was the greatest line of the evening: "Sinn Féin will be a ninja for the economy". Well at least it came across that way.

All in all I didn't learn anything I didn't already know. But then again us partisan hacks are not like the general population so maybe there was some merit in the whole event. The depressing thing is that we all seem to be happy to declare Kenny the winner just on the basis of not making a complete fool of himself. I'd like to think I have slightly higher standards for my politicians.

No comments:

Post a Comment