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A Platform of Nothing

As I pointed out on Facebook earlier today, with the departure of the The Throbbing Vein, five were left. The Evangelist is still in; The Smoothie is still in; The Fright Attendant is still in; The Kitchen Mop is still in; The Pop-Eyed One is still in. At least until tomorrow.

By the end of the week The Kitten-Heeled Goddess will be history and one of the above gets to be head boy of what is still a scrabbling, skirmishing den of posturing, preening wannabes. Because that's all these TV debates are - a brief period in the limelight for a group of public servants who seem to have forgotten that they are just that. To be fair, one of them did mention that particular aspect although I must confess I can't remember which one. That's the problem; they are so unmemorable in terms of real achievement. Or for that matter, much else. At one time, a long, long, time ago and probably in a galaxy far, far away now (it seems like it), we had politicians who actually stood for something, said what they meant, meant what they said and, at least to a large degree, actually did what they said they would. Not today however.

Why do we have these so-called debates? As I pointed out in my book, 'Comments of a Common Man' (£9.99 from Amazon if you haven't already and are interested...go know you want to), they are an imported Americanism which doesn't really work in the UK. When it comes to the crunch across the pond, there are just two debatees and both want to lead their country. It has some relevance. At least to the USA but what we now see in the UK is a bunch of people shouting over each other with none ever really answering questions.

Not doing so has become something of an art form for the modern-day politician and the British have the best in the world. Then again, perhaps not - we don't have politicians who are much good at anything, including the candidates for the biggest job we can give them, that of leading the UK on behalf of its citizens. At least the BBC could not be accused of surrounding the men under question with a biased studio audience this time. Probably a good thing because as well as the panel members rabbiting on and constantly interrupting each other (as well as the moderator), there is also, again a modern-day phenomenon, a whooping gallery to play to.

The absence of real people in an audience did at least prevent any 'look-at-me' posing, confining the candidates to heckling each other. Boris Johnson may be the favourite still and looked suitably serious throughout, which in itself is something of an achievement. Jeremy Hunt continued to look a little other-worldly and Michael Gove bounces along geekily with detailed plans with no details revealed. 'The Saj' is a little too smarmy to be comfortable with and Rory Stewart simply looks deranged.

There usually is a shock competitor in any contest, regardless of the nature of the event and Stewart's presence has been continually questioned. Why is he there? How did he get as far as this? He did so because there are enough MPs giving him their backing, which is yet another 'in itself' moment. That we are having this particular contest is something of an indictment of the political class and as I have pointed out before, it demonstrates how detached from the real lives of ordinary people most current MPs are. Tonight was, once again, more about five men (really...grown ups. I think) thrusting their hands up manically in class and saying 'Ooo Sir! Me, me, me! I'm bestest at this', rather than anything else.

Which reminds me - did any of them actually answer any of the questions? Don't be silly...of course not. That isn't why they are there. On that point however, let's take the last question, which was, would any of them call a general election since none of them have a mandate from the people to be Prime Minister? I almost hate to disavow anybody of their particular desires and who wants yet another people's vote but that isn't how it works. As another questioner put it, Do Words have Consequences?

Of course they do. Ask Boris since he knows better than most, or should do by now (one does wonder). His remarkable letterbox remark was remarked upon, as one might expect, as was his jibe at Gordon Brown's coronation as PM when Tony Blair left office. Johnson's call for an election at that time was raised also. Boris is still Boris however so his answers were a little lost among the jumble of words spewing forth, not just from him but the other four as well.

Returning to that last question however, the answer is that the UK does not elect a Prime Minister. It doesn't do personality PMs. Theresa May found that out at the last election when plastering her name over everything didn't work (David Cameron also got stung by the same thing at a bye-election). It has worked, a least a little, for Jeremy Corbyn but the trouble with Personality that the character flaws quickly come to the surface. So we elect a party. Not a Prime Minister. It is for the members of that party to decide on how its leader, and thus PM, is done. So if you want to change it, join the party of your choice and do something about it. And that's the problem here.

Those character flaws I mentioned have already become apparent as the spotlight has been shone not just on the flotilla of hopefuls shovelling themselves forwards to be in charge, but those still standing. And on the subject of standing, I remain upright on the point I have already made elsewhere; if rats are a pest and need culling, so does the Palace of Westminster by deselecting most of the 650 incumbents.

Personally I wouldn't give you tuppence for any of them. So who gets the crown? I still think Larry The Cat would be a great PM.

© Kevan James 2019.

Read Kevan James' other articles, both under News Commentary as well as his regular column -

Comments of a Common Man is still available via Amazon, £9.99.

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