One issue puzzling me about modern British politics is what’s happened to the follow-up question? Because I’m a sucker for punishment, I watched Theresa May being interviewed twice this morning (first by Andrew Marr, then by Robert Peston) and noticed that both of them had times when her answer to one of their questions felt like it needed probing and following up for more detail, but instead they just moved on to the next item on their list. It makes me wonder just how much listening is actually happening on either side, and how much it’s just two people going through a script with no improvisation allowed. We complain about politicians avoiding giving direct answers to questions, but when they know they only have to bat off a question once, why not resort to defence to get through it? Where are the truly forensic interviewers nowadays?
Something else that’s confusing me right now is seeing some Labour people discussing what they’re going to do about the party leadership after the election, and gaming out various scenarios depending on how many seats they win. I understand what it’s like going into an election with the feeling your party’s going to get a kicking and you’ll be needing a new leader afterwards, but I don’t recall seeing these sort of discussions and gaming out of various scenarios in public before. It’s not my party, so I don’t object to them doing it, but the experience I have suggests that whatever scenarios you come up with won’t match up to the one the voters choose to put you in at the election. Making plans is a way to make God laugh, as the old saying goes, and the electorate is God in this situation, but a capricious deity eager to create the one scenario you thought would never happen.
“This analysis is all very interesting.” I hear you ask. “But do you have a tenuous link between the election and Doctor Who to really pique my interest?” Why, yes I do, now the Tories have selected their candidate in Clacton. It’s 2014 by-election and 2015 general election candidate Giles Watling, who must be thinking he has a good chance of becoming an MP with Douglas Carswell now departed, and who also happens to be the brother of Deborah Watling, who played the Second Doctor’s companion Victoria Waterfield. It’s tenuous, but as I still don’t think we’ve had anyone who’s appeared in Who as a professional actor playing a role (so Anne Widdecombe doesn’t count) making it into the Commons yet, it’ll have to do.
On to Election Leaflet Of The Day, and we’re getting more general election leaflets turning up, even as the local election race heats up. We’ve had a range of parties so far, so let’s look at our first Green Party general election leaflet from Molly Scott-Cato in Bristol West. I may have disagreements with some of the content of Green leaflets, but I do have to say that I do like the party’s common style and feel for their leaflets. They have nice colours and fonts, and the use of the slightly angled boxes for headlines and titles gives it a much more refreshing feel than the usual boxy design of most political leaflets. Sadly, I suspect there won’t be too much design innovation from other parties and candidates (aside from the usual ‘just how small a font can I use to get all my thoughts onto one sheet of paper?’ challenge adopted by the more loquacious candidates) in this election, but I’ll keep an eye out for any that show up.
Tomorrow I may take a break from this year’s election to jump back twenty years and remember the 1997 election. I’ve still got many memories of that (very long) day, and when everyone else is reminiscing about it feels like a good time to get them all down somewhere.