The TV debate earlier this week was everything I expected – hours of shouting over each other, arguing about immigration, budget cuts, the NHS, and housing – and a lot of what I didn’t expect – Jonny Tudor and his question dragging on and on, no one talking about the arts or the environment (apart from a moment when Natalie Bennett really tried), almost no heckling at all (you let all of the viewing public down audience, you really did), a f***ed up attack on HIV suffers, and more powerful women in politics on one stage then I have ever seen before.
Natalie Bennet (Greens), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) all took part in the debate alongside David Cameron (Conservative), Nick Clegg (Lib Dem), Ed Milliband (Labour), and Nigel Farage (UKIP). I have heard rumours of there being women in politics but until Thursday night I didn’t really believe it to be true – I just thought women in the Conservative cabinet were only good for their dresses and handbags (I will not be linking to this article because it goes against the fiber of my being).
Whenever I see or hear Cameron or Milliband talk politics, they are going out of their way to pander to the extremist voters out there – the ones who will probably vote UKIP. It was refreshing to hear Wood criticise Farage for his immigration based scaremongering. And when he decided to attack ‘foreign’ HIV suffers she told him he should be ashamed of himself, resulting in the first spontaneous round of applause from the audience. Both Wood and Sturgeon didn’t hide the fact how important it was to stay in the EU and they, along with Bennet talked about how immigrants have been fundamental in building the UK’s economy and NHS.
Of course there was the shouting and the talking over one another and the chair, Julie Etchingham, the mocking, entitled jokes (hello Farage, the ‘everyman’s’ man), the demonization of foreigners (especially Romanians for some reason), and the complete lack of understanding from some party leaders that austerity isn’t really the way to keep on going. I also learnt that there is a good type of immigration just as there is a bad type of immigration, and the same with HIV.
But this debate made it abundantly obvious that politics is a place where there can be change – I was so impressed with Sturgeon that realising I can’t vote for the SNP at the election hurt. I want to vote for her! Maybe, just maybe the old boy’s club is coming to an end, maybe it’s also the end of the pale, male, and stale politician. This election might be a step towards making that dream come true.