The "Great" British Debate

Britain’s first-ever televised election debate between the leaders of its three major parties occurred last night, and the press is rather unanimous in declaring Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg the winner, mainly because nobody knows who he is so he started with low expectations. The easily excited British media is in full hyperventilation mode today, asserting that Clegg’s strong performance and ability to not be the other two guys will result in a hung parliament, but it is early still: There are two more debates, which means there’s plenty of time for Prime Minister Gordon Brown to savagely beat Conservative leader David Cameron with his own podium. (British betting firm Ladbroke’s is listing that eventuality at 3–5 odds, making it slightly more likely than Cameron stabbing Brown with an extremely elegant knife that has been in his family for seven generations.) If you are at all interested in the debate itself, the extremely condensed version above will give you a fairly accurate feel of its flavor, but it is mostly rather depressing: The candidates are more or less adopting the tone and tactics of politicians from the televised talking point delivery shows in our own country. America has somehow managed to diminish hundreds of years of glorious parliamentary debate simply by the power of example. Yay us!