Brown, Cameron, Clegg, and the art of Participation in political rhetoric

This week in the UK we’ve had our first ever televised political leaders debate in an election campaign.  50 years after the USA first did it with Kennedy vs Nixon, there’s no turning back now……..  

I am interested in participation, access, inclusion and those kinds of things, so below is my transcript of the Brown vs Cameron vs Clegg debate, but only including those moments when they were  reaching out to the general public, referencing people they had met on the campaign trails, name-checking the questioners from the audience, reflexively referencing themselves, and also when they were trying to be inclusive with one another.  I’ve cut out the bits where they actually talk about policy, as you can find those details in every other analysis about this event.   

The way the three of them presented their participatory credentials was quite amusing really, and just goes to show that when there is an election looming, all of a sudden politicians remember that we are out there, the Great General Public.  Now is the time to give their Achilles heal a tweak and make them listen to you.  They will take notes, and you might even find yourself name-checked on the next live debate next Thursday.  I’ll see you there!  (I might even read them a quote from Paulo Freire’s ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’!).   

The Players…….   

GB = Gordon Brown (Labour)   

DC = David Cameron (Conservative)   

NC = Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats)   

 Let the show commence…..   

   

     

IMMIGRATION (theme introduced by Gerrard)   

   

GB – “I’ve been listening to people….”
GB – “I talked to a chef the other day who was training…..”
GB – “I then talked to some care assistants….”
GB – “I’ve been visiting a lot of employers in this region…”
DC – “I was in Plymouth recently and a 40 year black man made the point that…..”
NC – “I was in a pediatric hospital in Cardiff a few weeks ago….I asked the ward sister…”
DC – “A lot of people would ask though…..”
NC – “I’m like everybody else….”
GB – “I agree with Nick….”   

     

CRIME (theme introduced by Jacqueline)   


DC – “I went to Crosby the other day and I was talked to a woman there who had just been burgled….”
NC – “In my city of Sheffield where I’m an MP……”
GB – “If you are dissatisfied with the way the police are dealing with your case…….we’ll give you the right to ….….”
DC – “I even went to a drug rehab recently in my own constituency and met a young man who told me…..”
NC – “What I’ve seen in my city of Sheffield….”
GB – “When I was young my father  used to run a youth club with my brother for young people………the more people who do voluntary activities the better…..”
NC – “I think that’s what Jacqueline is talking about…..”
NC – “I met a young man in London the other day and his flat had been burgled five times, and one of them, would you believe it Jacqueline……”
GB – “At Reading prison we’ve been working at this young offenders institution..……”
GB – “I’m grateful for David…..”
DC – “I went to a Hull police station the other day…..”
DC – “My mother was magistrate in Newbury, for 30 years she sat on the bench …..”

   
EXPENSES SCANDAL / CREDIBILITY OF POLITICS (theme introduced by Helen)

   

GB – “I was brought up to believe by my parents…..”
GB – “I want to give the right of recall to you the constituents…..If your MP is misbehaving and guilty of corruption you should have the right to recall…….”
GB – “To give people the right to petition parliament so that your issues can be raised in parliament…..”
DC – “Well Helen I’m not surprised you talked about it in your pub…..”
DC – “As Nick says….”
DC – “I know how angry people are in this county…..I know how angry I was…..”
NC – “You deserve the right to sack your MPs when they are corrupt….”
GB – “You see I agree with Nick…….I think Nick also agrees with me about…..”
GB – “Now Nick supports me in..…..”
GB – “The truth is that Nick does support…..”
DC – “Let’s try and find something that we’d all agree on….I think we’d all agree about that……” 

  
EDUCATION (theme introduced by Joel)   

   

GB – (To Joel) “……I hope I can work with you to do so…”
DC – “As someone who’s got two children, one of them who started in a state school…..”
DC – “I want what every parent in this country wants….”
NC – “I think creativity is important, I think that’s the point you’re making Joel…..”
NC – “Friends of mine who are teachers say…..”
DC – “As a parent of children at state schools…….”
DC – “….what family hasn’t had to do that…..”
NC – “Let’s get back to Joel’s question……”
NC – “As you know, as I certainly know, my two sons go to a local excellent state funded school in my area……”
NC – “That one-to-one tuition that I think Joel agrees is necessary…..”   

 
ECONOMIC GROWTH (theme introduced by Robert)
DC – “A 100 of the leading business people in this country, have all said..….”
NC – “Where are you Robert I can hear your voice but I can’t see you…..ah there you are….Robert I think we need to be open with you, straight with you……”
DC – “Let me take on, Robert, this argument directly……”
NC – “……are we going to be open with people, with you…..?”
NC – “….people before politics……”
GB – “Back to the question Robert put……”
DC – “What are 100 of the leading business people in this county saying…….?”
DC – “I think people at home watching this will find it extraordinary……”   

    

RESOURCES FOR THE ARMED FORCES (theme introduced by Nick)

NC – “You’re right Nick…..”
GB – “My pride and admiration for all our armed forces……”
GB – “Every time I’ve got to write to a family where someone had died….”
DC – “Sorry I couldn’t see Nick in the audience, can you put your hand up?……first of all can I thank you for what you do, and I join with Gordon…….I’ve been to Afghanistan in each of the last four years…..”
NC – “I was in a factory in my own city a few weeks ago.…..”
NC – “…..when, as Nick said in his original question……”
DC – “I went each year, and you didn’t have to talk to that many service men and women before they told you……”   


HEALTH (theme introduced by Sindra)
 DC -“First of all can I thank you for your incredible service to the NHS……what it did for my family and for my son I will never forget……I went from hospital to hospital……”
NC – “…..maternity ward in the NHS hospital where my third son was born just over a year ago is threatened with closure……”
NC – “I was in Burnley the other day…..I think Jacqueline was saying, you come from Burnley, as you know Jacqueline, they’ve closed the A&E department……. ”
DC – “…..for exactly the reason the Sindra gives…..”
GB – “I had a lady write to me who said, I would not be alive today if……”
DC – “I have a man in my constituency called Clive Stone, who had kidney cancer and he came to see me with seven others, tragically two of them have died……”
GB – “Where Nick and I agree is……”

  
CARE FOR THE ELDERLY (theme introduced by Alan) 

DC – “Thank you Alan for asking this question…….”
NC – “I think Alan that this is an issue so big that all parties need to come together to……”
GB – “I agree with Nick….”
DC – “The thing that every carer always says to me more than anything else, is ……..”
NC – “Of course I agree with that……”
NC – “….people before politics…..”
GB – “There are 6 million carers in this country, I’ve met many of them and talked to them about their needs…..”
GB – “…..as Nick said…..”
DC – “….I think it’s right to form a consensus [across the parties]……”
DC – “……we tried to do this with my son……..I found it testing enough……”
GB – “…I think it’s right in the next government to form a consensus……”   

    

CLOSING STATEMENTS   

NC – “Thanks for sticking with us for a full 90 minutes…..I know many of you think that……I hope I’ve tried to show you that……whether it’s questions from Alan on care, Jacqueline on crime, Helen on politics, Joel on schooling, Robert on the deficit……..that will give you and your family a better fairer life.”   

GB – “I was particularly struck by the question from Robert about…….”   

DC – “Let me tell you my values……if you work hard…….if you want to raise a family…….if you’re old or you become ill………”   

.   

.   

AND THE WINNER GOES TO……….(find out on May 6th!   I just hope the winner is the British Public!)   

.   

End of Act One.   

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