Televised debates and barnstorming Conference speeches tell us nothing

Joe Biden was in fine form earlier this week, saying – of Mitt Romney’s fundraising dinner rant – that “the words speak for themselves”. It’s what words tend to do, Joe – and epecially in your case.

When it comes to the presidential challenger speaking for himself, the voice coaches have definitely been working on Romney. Look away from the screen these days, and it’s Ronald Reagan to a tee. You almost expect him to say “Okey-dokey Nancy” at any second. Romney is a false prophet and the worst kind of neocon clown, but for me he won the first Presidential debate hands-down. He talked rubbish of course, and he dissembled, and he told Americans he knew how to help small business grow – surely one of the most ridiculous claims ever made by a carpetbagger. But at the other podium, the Black Dude seemed to think that doing presidential would be enough. Well, it wasn’t.

Doubtless others will see it differently, but I’d be surprised if Romney didn’t make up some poll ground after what felt like a solid performance. That said, the three debates are a massive distraction from the real world, and will tell us nothing about the likely presidencies either man might produce: events will run things as always, and America’s attempts to retain its dominant global influence will help guide those events.

Way down the headlines as the debate finished, for example, was the Iranian Rial’s struggle to remain a viable currency – amid rioting by those in charge of trading it. While it warms the cockles of my heart to see Ahmadinnejhad looking uneasy, ordinary Iranians are suffering as a direct result of American interference in the country’s foreign transmissions system. I would’ve liked to see that point debated at 3 am, but it wasn’t. I’d also have found it a lot more gripping if someone had asked the President whether writing off the life of Ambassador Steven was a price worth paying in order to keep in with the Muslim Brotherhood. But instead we got Obama wishing his wife Happy Anniversary, and offering us all his winning smile.

Historians (assuming history hasn’t been wiped by the Ministry of Truth before then) will look back on this era of political stooges, and wonder what in God’s name was going on at the time. The other big winner this week was, without doubt, Ed Miliband. A new poll in this morning’s Mirror has the number of people viewing him as “statesmanlike” zooming from 18% to 34% following his  keynote speech to Newish Labour with just a hint of Old a couple of days ago. Nearly 30% said they were more likely to vote for Labour after what the original Redtop called his ‘barnstorming’ performance.

Cast your minds back to April 2010, and recall a very similar poll-boost for Nick Clegg, based entirely on his ability not to be either of the other two as Britain dipped its toes into the live debate bollocks. Did that Troika of tripe tell us anything of interest or relevance? No of course it didn’t. But the BBC’s Jon Sopel became almost tumescent about it at the time, saying “This is what politics should really be about”. Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

What Miliband actually did earlier this week was nick a 170 year old Tory idea, and use it as something with which to beat the Beastly Camerlot chaps around the head. Fine and dandy, nice tactic and all that:  but what did we actually learn from the Labour leader about what he’ll do if, by some ghastly quirk of fate, he happens to be in Number Ten and picking up the pieces after the global economy has been destroyed by Mitt, Mario and Merkel?

Drill down into Ed’s storming of the barn, and he remains what he’s always been: a duck-billed platitude. “A fairer Britain for all…I was born in my local NHS hospital….I went to my local comprehensive with people from all backgrounds…I believe that we can overcome any odds if we come together as people….I want to talk to all of the people of this country who always thought of themselves as comfortably off, but who now find themselves struggling to make ends meet….a fair crack of the whip…..our problems are deep…..our outstanding police….a country where everyone has a stake…..we have got to live within our means…”

Miliband did this for the first two-thirds of his speech, only raising hopes of something substantive when, at last, he observed, “We must be a One Nation party to become a One Nation government, to build a One Nation Britain. And here’s how we are going to take these steps to do that.”

But steps were there none. Only more generalised air-castles:

“The next Labour government is going to sort out our banks….we need an education system that works for all young people….we’ve got to change the culture in this country….Let’s refound the rules of the game so we have a One Nation business model…..You just can’t trust the Tories on the NHS…..a country for all, with everyone playing their part. A Britain we rebuild together.”

I tell a lie: there was one promise: to repeal the NHS Bill. To go backwards to where we were. If that doesn’t settle the markets’ nerves, then what will? Eh?

The future Ed Miliband asks us to grasp is a foreign country, another plane of unreality called Mistdom. And just as with the empty ether that is Mitt Romney, you can’t lasso it. Any more than you can get to grips with Camerlot, Brussels, the Obama foreign policy, Greek debt or WTF the Troika thinks it’s up to.

The elites of our world – Realdom, not Mistdom – have no new ideas. There is no innovation out there, only process and generality. If there is one thing more depressing than Mitt Romney being the only alternative to Barack Obama, it is Ed Miliband being the only alternative to David Cameron.