On Thursday afternoon I tuned in to watch the third and final Prime Minister debate from across the pond, you can watch the entire debate here. As mentioned here before, this is the first time these debates have ever been televised. One bit of irony for me was the way Gordon Brown mirrored Richard Nixon. Not necessarily the Richard Nixon from the first ever televised Presidential debates in 1960, but the later Nixon on the 1968 and 1972 campaigns. So the “television thing” is something we Americans could claim as our idea, now adopted by the Britons some 50 years later.
Now, the guy at the top of the ballot for the Conservative Party, David Cameron, has proposed a “contract” to 3.5 million independent voters. He went through many of the same rituals that Newt Gingrich and the Republicans did in 1994, such as signing a giant version of the contract in front of a crowd. The “contract” also includes a suggestion to the voters that if the promises are not met, they are to “vote us out” in five years.
A good report on this new development can be found here:
The contract sets out 16 different pledges – five to change politics, five to change the economy and six to change society.
They include controlling immigration, cutting the pay of Government ministers and raising standards in schools.
The two-page document – entitled “A contract between the Conservative Party and you” – is also used to rebuff Labour allegations that Mr Cameron is secretly planning to remove some benefits, including the winter fuel allowance and other state perks for pensioners.
The contract can be found here in full.
If you haven’t paid attention to this process overseas, it’s worth looking at because I think the Conservative Party is doing many things we would do well adopting here in the lead up to 2010 and 2012. In that final debate, in a somewhat heated moment where the candidates are actually afforded more dialogue than ours are afforded, there was this great comment spoken by David Cameron:
“But do I want to cut taxes on all businesses, particularly small businesses to get the economy moving? You’re damn right I do.”
If you go to the C-SPAN feed of the debate and advance to 35:54, you’ll see the comments in full. We don’t hear candidates talk like that here.
We’ve heard the saying that “life mirrors art”, well in this case, countries are mirroring countries through their political systems. With the expected results this week in Britain, where the Conservative Party is now poised to lead for the first time since 1997, we might do well to remember what worked and what didn’t, and see if we can do some mirroring of our own. Elections like these, and the recent elections in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia show that when we intelligently and passionately take our message to the voters, we win elections.