Sir Winston Churchill once said that “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”.
Forget policies; forget being door stepped by earnest canvassers, bombarded with election literature and subject to cringe-worthy party election broadcasts. We now have democracy reduced to a game show.
Who is the smoothest talker, who’s the best turned out, who has the most memorable sound bite?
All that’s needed is Simon Cowell and a phone in election and the whole thing can be exported to the US of A…oh, hold on a minute that’s where the whole thing started with the oft quoted and too little analysed JFK/Nixon debate.
But, despite the fears and the 76 rules, the UK election game show featuring Brown, Cameron and Clegg, has turned out to be engaging viewing, with each nuance examined and each faux pas picked over by pundits and public alike.
Then we have the TV debate in Northern Ireland.
It had been going so well until then.
Of course, one may have expected the Orange/Green tribal politics to slip off the mask of decency and snarls to unveil the toothy grins of the political predators.
Instead we had what we have all known since the late 80s; Northern Ireland politics is all about scoring points against the party ostensibly on your side.
The DUP’s aim has been to maintain their poll lead over the Conservative and Unionists, while they in turn want to retain what they feel is their rightful place as power brokers in Westminster.
Sinn Féin wants to make sure that they can hold seats against the SDLP, who hope to raise their profile at Westminster.
But let’s be honest, the Northern Ireland party leaders, albeit all having their own positive points – somewhere – are a pale imitation of the bickering UK national pretenders to the prime ministerial crown.
And to a certain extent what else can we expect?