Daily catch-up: opening round in the election contest of the YouTube videos

Plus: not answering the important questions about the National Health Service

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The Independent Online

1. Martin Freeman (above) opened the battle of the Party Election Broadcasts with a bit of hammy sincerity to camera.

A bit preachy to the converted, I thought, but well done. The Conservatives replied with what people want for their children and grandchildren over footage of tinies backed by country guitar and whistling. Notably featuring Samantha with David Cameron, the Casual Prime Minister, at the end. Not awfully specific, but, again, quite well put together.

2. Is this not a Battle of YouTube videos, you might ask. Is the era of the Party Election Broadcast over? Just like “Is this the first social media election?” this is a QTWTAIN, a Question To Which The Answer Is No.

For us political obsessives, YouTube is a wonderful thing. It allows us to watch broadcasts and videos when we want. The parties can knock together simple videos for activists and hope that they get some pick-up on Facebook, and instead of buying billboards or newspaper space they can put posters online. But most people, who are not interested in politics, still tend to get their information about politics from television.

3. Chris Deerin asks, politely, if the NHS really is The Envy of the World™. Sadly, one question that won’t be asked during this election campaign is how to change incentives in the NHS so that the interests of patients are put first.

4. Instead, we are treated to silly gimmicks such as Ed Miliband’s plan to limit the profits of NHS providers, a policy that fell to pieces the moment it was prodded yesterday, when the Labour leader said it wouldn’t apply to drugs companies.

So now we need to know whether GPs, dentists, opticians and pharmacists, who are all private providers of NHS services, are going to be limited to 5 per cent profits and, if so, how those profits would be calculated.

5. Michael Ashcroft’s focus groups, in Wolverhampton and Cheadle, were informative, as ever. They were ambiguous about Cameron saying he wouldn’t serve for a third term:

“There must be a hidden agenda somewhere. Is the idea that Boris is going to come in?”

“I would have thought he’d keep his mouth shut.”

Most entertaining were the answers to this question: If each party were a house, what kind of house would it be?

“The groups offered some remarkably specific answers. The Labour house is in a terrace, with the front door leading straight onto the pavement. High-vis jackets hang in the hallway, and people in the living room are watching their 50-inch plasma TV, and eating cottage pie with chips and beer. ‘The furniture is nice, but it’s all on HP.’ The Conservative house has nice thick carpets and ‘one of those kitchen islands’. There are Hunter wellies in the hall and a ‘posh dog’, probably a chocolate Labrador. But ‘you can’t get to the door because there is an intercom at the gates’ and once inside ‘you have to wipe your feet’. The Lib Dem house is in a cul-de-sac. There are sandals by the door and solar panels on the roof. This house is also home to a dog (‘a mongrel from the rescue centre’) that would be allowed to jump on the sofa. The décor is either plain and beige or ‘quite odd’, having been chosen by ‘trendy intellectuals”. The UKIP house is ‘a bit Hyacinth Bucket’ and has ‘a wrought iron fence all round it to keep everyone out’. There is a flagpole in the garden and the local hunt is gathering outside. The ageing residents (who ‘don’t get on with their neighbours because they are a different colour’) are smoking heavily and ‘talking about how it was in their day’. The timer on the stereo is set to play the national anthem every day at noon.”

6. And finally, thanks to scarebro for this:

“If you say ‘This is a lie’ when you’re hooked up to a lie detector, the machine breaks and the police have to let you go. I’ve killed eight men.”