Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Debates in context

Well, that "leaders debate" was a couple of hours which the people who watched won't get back, I suspect it will only influence the most miniscule number of votes because the people watching had already made up their minds how to vote.

In historical context the decision of the Prime Minister and the First Minister of Scotland not to attend is not at all unusual.

Here is a potted history of all the times over the past fifty-three years when a leader's debate has been called for and why it usually didn't happen.

There has been precisely one election - in 2010 - when it was agreed to get the plausible candidates to be Prime Minister (Brown, Cameron and Clegg at that time) in front of the cameras for a series of three debates. Here is an interesting BBC report from the time on the history leading up to that series of debates.

Since them, in an understandable but ultimately futile attempt to be fair to all parties, we have had endless arguments about who should take part and to be honest the set piece debates with seven parties represented have not been tremendously valuable. I think this has been a classic case of trying to please everyone and ending up by pleasing nobody.

I note that even some people who until this evening had criticised Theresa May for not taking part are now saying that after watching it they don't blame her.

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