Head Lines with Jonny Mitchell: See leaders trot out same old guff – live!

HEAD LINES Jonny Mitchell.
HEAD LINES Jonny Mitchell.

Thornhill Community Academy’s straight-talking headteacher Jonny Mitchell showed the world what life in the classroom is really like in the award-winning TV documentary series Educating Yorkshire.

Now he writes exclusively for us:

So, in 2010, the General Election was preceded by a series of live TV debates watched by around 22 million people.

The reward – plans to do the same again, with invitations having been issued already to David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage and Ed Miliband (purely alphabetical, don’t read anything into the order I wrote them down, please!)

I can’t wait. And, yes, there is a huge smack of irony in that statement.

I imagine most, if not all, of these gentlemen have been part of various debating societies at whatever institutions they attended, and I truly believe they are committed to everything that they say. For the 20 minutes during which they say it, that is.

Over the last few months, I have watched political programmes on the TV and seen conference speeches ad nauseam, and nothing convinces me that this is the right way forward. They’ve been doing it in the States for years, I know, and apparently it is a massive ratings winner, and it certainly stirs up controversy. Just imagine an ill-timed Freudian slip midstream during a rant, and the impact it could have on your personal rating or your party’s faring in the polls.

But, having watched Darling and Salmond (an ideal name for a pair of divorce lawyers if ever I’ve heard one) and their handbags at dawn during the independence “debate”, it is absolutely clear that the “winner” of each debate will be determined by he who shouts loudest or cracks the most pertinent of jokes at the others’ expense.

All of the leaders are now beginning to trot out the same old guff that always spews forth ahead of election time, and the party faithful (read “prospective MPs”) seem to have a cartridge inserted somewhere in their person which regularly disseminates the “I love my leader” phrases which make you feel absolutely bilious after a while.

Failing that, telling the electorate not to vote for UKIP (because it is a vote for Labour...) is a wonderful wheeze, possibly true, but hardly cricket, my dear.

Every single one of them is putting personality before politics. The problem is, there isn’t a personality amongst them. Farage is as close as you get to Jack the Lad, down with the kids, man on the street, but he’s still pretty objectionable when it comes to policies. Last weekend, he couldn’t even remember his policies (apart from the get out of Europe ones, of course). And Red Ed probably knows his policies, he is just a bit scared to get them out in case the public don’t agree with them.

DC is trying the old “Let’s look after the middle-earners” tack, with an increase in the threshold before the top rate of tax kicks in, and it will probably prove crucial. He has clearly not forgotten that he has steadily and regularly disgruntled this section of the population (and alienated some of his traditional support) to the extent that he now has to give them back what he took in the first place.

It is difficult to be upset with Nicky C, though. Sometimes, when the best you can say about a party leader is that he doesn’t inspire any comment, it’s best left forgotten.

For the first time in my voting life, I am not even going to think for a second of who I would like to lead the country, because I’m actually not bothered. I will be voting purely and simply for the person I think will represent me best locally and nationally. Unless of course, voting for that person will mean someone else gets in. Oh, I don’t know, it’s all too confusing!

Oh, and it’s pretty likely the four men who currently have invites to the party will not be precisely the same four who turn up with a bottle.