Last night, arguably the four most powerful politicians in the UK (there’s an argument for Arlene Foster and Nigel Farage to be included to make it top six) were questioned by an audience in Sheffield for the BBC’s Question Time. Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon, Jo Swinson, and Boris Johnson were all robustly questioned, on the whole mostly fairly too. It won’t decide the result of the election but it will have made some people’s minds up, and educate themselves about these leaders.
Chaired by Fiona Bruce on one of her better nights, saw her bring Jeremy Corbyn upfront first. Corbyn is used to speaking to crowds of like-minded people and noticeably struggles when challenged on his opinions, or his policies. Here he had to deal with the two things that most challenge his credibility; Brexit and antisemitism. In both he came out looking evasive as the idea of him being neutral in a second EU referendum (note to the guy in the audience, Harold Wilson was never neutral in the first European referendum, at least in the way Corbyn is pretending to be should he get a chance) when he’s a devout Brexiter, and the mounting antisemitism in Labour is driving people away from Labour and is affecting him directly.
On answering questions on policies and sticking to a line, Corbyn was good but sometimes brittle trying to put forth his view and this isn’t an uncommon thing for him but here he did fine, but one can see again why he’s kept within a bubble. He just needs to convince voters he’s trustworthy enough and that’s a major problem of all parties this election.
Next up was Nicola Sturgeon who started oddly nervous and amazingly waffled far too much as again, she was outwith of her normal place in Scotland and faced with an audience of people clearly ignorant of Scotland, it’s politics or even of devolution, she had to do a lot of heavy lifting. Eventually, she didas she made clear her party’s position in potentially supporting Labour though shied short of saying she’d demand a Section 30 order (the act needed to transfer power from Westminster to Holyrood) but made it clear the decision is Corbyn’s. That was hard to explain to the Corbynistas in the crowd who were clearly of the ‘why can’t you just shut up about independence now and wait til Jeremy lets you have you’ school of many an English Labour supporter.
Sturgeon showed though why she’s First Minister and one suspects the Lib Dems thought Jo Swinson was a Sturgeon in waiting, but from the minute Swinson came on she was on the ropes and singularly failed to defend her record, or her party in any convincing way at all. This campaign has been brutal for the Lib Dems who’ve seen support bleed away. Sure, they’ll pick up MP’s but Swinson is a liability which after last night is probably something senior Lib Dems now realise. I’ve seen a load of woeful leaders in my time and Swinson is waaaaaaay down there with the worst.
Then Boris Johnson comes on, opens with a lie and carries on lying much to the anger of the audience who were by now, clearly not going to give any politician time of it was clear they weren’t speaking truthfully. Johnson isn’t a complex, flawed figure but a blustering, not too smart upper class blagger who is being caught out, but has enough behind him with Brexit and a shamefully weak Labour Party opposing him to push him over the line but fuck me is this man unworthy of being a leader. You can see why the Tories are keeping him away from people, especially the likes of Sturgeon who’d skewer him but Johnson is a shambles. A failure of a human being but propelled to where he is by his class and his father’s connections. A racist and bigot who somehow leads a charge against the elite he’s part of.
We are, in short fucked and Corbynistas wonder why we want independence in Scotland?
So with just over three weeks to go things could change, but what is clear that for now, the priority is get the Tories out but I fear it won’t happen.