15 April 2010

Before we watch the debates, has anyone seen or heard any proper speeches yet?

As I've been away since the start of the election campaign, I haven't been able to monitor news coverage to check on whether or not one of my predictions is coming true.

A few months ago, I suggested that the 2010 general election could go down in history as the first one that leaves us completely speechless (HERE).

So I'd be very interested to hear whether anyone has seen or heard any of our leading politicians making a proper speech at a proper rally yet - and by 'proper', I don't mean formal statements to assembled groups of journalists and/or television crews.

Tonight's TV 'debate'
As for the the much heralded televised debates, I don't share the eager excitement being drummed up by the media, not least because they have such an obvious vested interest in being able to film such stuff in their own studios without the expense and inconvenience of having to send camera crews out to to cover rallies miles away from London.

And, as I've mentioned before in relation to a recent speech by Tony Blair, and one of US election debates between Obama and McCain, British television is more and more obsessed with mediating what we hear rather than covering live speeches out there in the real world.

I shall be watching the 'debates', of course. But my main interest will be to see whether and how they manage to enforce the various nonsensical rules of procedure, most notably the ban on applause - for more on which, see TV Debate Claptrap: a warning to those cooking up rules for the leaders' election debates.

My other reason for watching is that the BBC website has asked me for some instant comment afterwards, which means that I'll have to record tonight's episode of Coronation Street.

Related posts:
Since posting this, I've just learnt from John Rentoul's blog, for which thanks, that rule 27 doesn't actually ban applause, but actually says:

'In order to maximise the time available for viewers to hear the leaders discussing election issues with each other, the studio will be asked not to applaud during the debate. There will be opportunities to do so both at the beginning and at the end of each programme.'

However, by the time this had been 'mediated' to those of us who hadn't read the rules in detail, the media had translated it into a 'ban' on applause - providing yet further grounds for concern about relying on journalists for our 'facts'.

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