Spin merchants swirl out of control

David Williams welcomes a natural explosion of human unpredictability into the election campaign

I woke this morning to find that overnight I had been left politically stranded in a strange electoral country in which my senses were clouded over by a dark poll of volcanic proportions. After a lifetime of witnessing the same old electoral processes and false claims at every election for as long as I can remember – and that’s going back a bit – there had suddenly, and without warning, been a seismic shift in the body politic.

The third party in British politics – for generations ignored and derided by their bullying opponents – had suddenly found their new leader propelled into the stratosphere of popularity. Rubbing your eyes in disbelief you attempt to re-focus only to find the accompanying political fallout spreading uncontrollably across the country, grounding opposition spin misters in their shaky control towers.

What joy it was to find those dreadful people who have, without invitation, so shaped our lives over the last two decades being completely wrong footed by the very medium which they have so desperately tried to manipulate – television.

The over confident spin merchants of the old guard missed the moment when the public took over the control box and voted with their fingers. There was no stopping them or influencing them. Pandora’s Box had been opened and, on this occasion, even hope had found a way out.

And so it was that a certain Mr. Clegg won the battle of the first ever television debate between party leaders in this country. Nick ‘who?’ had reached out to a disillusioned electorate desperate for political truth after the loss of faith caused by the impact of the expenses gravy train hitting the Westminster buffers.

We, the people, wanted nothing more than honesty after so much dishonesty by our ruling political elite. Some of the elite still don’t get it even now and, let’s face it, they’ve all been ‘at it’ to some degree or other. Not only do we want it – honesty in politics, that is – we’re desperate for it. Anyone who succeeds in appearing even slightly white in the dark cloud left by the expenses implosion can only benefit from the hunger of the disaffected.

It helps, of course, if you don’t know much about the new Political Knight. It is enough to perceive that he has a White Charger and believe that, together, they can deliver us from the gates of duck houses and their surrounding filthy moats.

Here in Wales we know that there was someone missing from the Great Debate which is changing the face of politics and may yet impact on the result of the General Election. Missing was that great survivor of our own domestic political scene – none other than the Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones. He and his SNP political ally were not invited to the television party.

They may still have something to say about that – indeed they are saying it as I write, and loudly – because the Man from Môn rightly figures that if the Third Party in British politics can benefit from equal exposure to public gaze just think what a ‘Fourth Party’ might achieve?

Plaid is right to be concerned that the surge in popularity for the Liberal Democrats may skew the vote against it in Wales. However, I somehow doubt whether Ieuan’s appearance on national television will bring with it the Clegg effect for his party.

But in the cloud of uncertainty which swirls around this election who knows what might happen if four, five or more ‘leaders’ parade themselves in front of us on the tele!

Ieuan for Prime Minister!

Doesn’t sound quite right somehow, but the Party would settle for a voice of influence in a hung parliament. Well, most of the Party members would, wouldn’t they?

But hang on a second. Talking of the doubters, why is it that Ieuan, an Assembly Member, is leading Plaid’s General Election campaign? It maybe that the Party has no choice given the absence of their most able parliamentarian, Adam Price (rtd) and the sidelining of their more unpredictable alternative, Elfyn Llwyd … Just thought I’d mention it!

At the time of writing it is unclear when, or if, the dust will settle on this campaign before 6 May. I for one welcome the uncertainties which accompany this natural explosion of human unpredictability.

If you look beyond the dark clouds which have enveloped the ruling political classes you may just catch a glimpse of a clear blue sky, unpolluted by the usual trails of vapid political dogma. Treasure the uncertainty which goes with it because, I bet you, those skies will be full again and soon enough. Roll on Thursday!

David Williams is an independent film television presenter and producer and a former Political Editor with BBC Wales.

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