Thursday, 28 October 2004


Just a debate

Last weekend's in-car listening for me was the Presidential Debate. In equal measures laughable, insightful (yes!), worrying and reassuring.

I see that Michael Howard has challenged Tony Blair to a similar debate, just as William Hague did in 2001, and the Conservative Party as a whole did in 2000. (It seems the Tories don't understand what 'no' means.)

Personally I don't want to hear a 'debate' along the lines of the one I listened to in the car. Both candidates sniped at each other, neither debated, both digressed without intervention from the moderator, both were repetitive.

No, if we do this in the UK, we'll have to do it properly. We need a chair who'll ensure participants don't deviate from the topic, repeat themselves or hesitate. In short, we need a special edition of Just a Minute.

John Kerry's already got the hang of it. "I want you to notice how the president switched away from jobs and started talking about education," he said at one point - a textbook call of deviation. Though later on, he seems to forget that rule: "Let me just answer one part of the last question quickly, and then I'll come to immigration."

As chair, Nicholas Parsons would be ruthless and entertaining. And for those of you who think there should be no room for entertainment in such events, let me remind you of George W Bush's closing comment in the last debate in 2000. He said, "I'm asking for your vote. For those of you for me, thanks for your help. For those of you for my opponent, please only vote once."

Posted by pab at 19:07 | Comments will be back later in the year. Please email me instead!