Friday, 25 April 2008

Why this election might be won by the bloggers

Guardian blogger Dave Hill has been blogging about the various TV debates, including the most recent Question Time on BBC One.

The problem with the national TV debates has been that the producers have been desperately trying to make the Mayoral contest relevant to people all over the country. But, although the job of Mayor is a highly influential position, with potential hotlines to the Government and the many other perks of being a world-class city leader, it's genuinely not of any interest to the people of Aberystwyth or Aberdeen, Belfast or Bournemouth.

The same situation is apparent in the national press, although Joe Public arguably gets more opportunities to ignore the London coverage when flicking through their copy of the Daily Mail. Put the other way, it would be like people in London being forced to watch televised debates of the Kesgrave Parish Council by-elections every day for a month.

The two-way (at best three-way, if you count Brian Paddick) debates become inherently confrontational as the programmes have to simplify the issues, and broaden their appeal to justify their airtime. Both Johnson and Livingstone had to resort to getting a little nasty with each other on the ITV debate the other night, and even Paddick, often praised for his good nature, told Boris Johnson to "shut up" on Question Time. Not exactly the most Parliamentary of language, is it? Or perhaps a different set of rules applies for candidates who are not bound by the conventions of the House of Commons...

Perhaps that's why this election, more than any other, will be won by the bloggers and other media outlets where TV targets the wrong audiences, and does so in a way which patronises not only the electorate of London, but the poor souls in the provinces who have to be bored to death by our own local politics.

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