How does the UK fix its awful election debates? Please!

Published by Mali Kakembo on

corbyn johnson debate

How does the UK fix it's awful election debates?

corbyn johnson debate

Two men jabbering over the host. Repeated applause for run-of-the-mill statements. The emotion of party politics partly explains both. However, at best it makes for annoying viewing and at worst it indicates blundering sexism.

Speakers throughout history have won crowds with eloquent displays of emotion. In better lands, the crowd’s energy accompanies climatic moments. Unfortunately, saying getting “get Brexit done” enough times in the last-minute won applause.

Awarding the grey performances of Johnson and Corbyn like so encourages them to repeat the fiasco.

God forbid.

One force pushing back against the lifeless wind was the host Julie Etchingham. She repeatedly offered to divert the candidates’ attention back to the topics at hand. When their ramblings threatened to reveal how uninteresting the pair were, she’d try to help them tie up their prose.

Boris, in particular, needed this help. He, in particular, bulldozed it down. Whenever Etchingham politely attempted her job of bringing one to a close, they ignored her.

It’s almost infeasible that either of them believed anyone needed to hear them repeat their dull lines. One suspects the pair’s discomfort at having a woman show that they’ve talked enough. Prior debates with male hosts such as 2015’s with David Dimbleby haven’t been perfect either but have seen more respectable behaviour.

So, we have persistent rambling and a pandering audience. How do we fix this?

This omnishambles requires the person in charge to have a tool.  Volume’s the problem, maybe volume’s the answer. With mics-galore in the venue, if Etchingham’s role was tweaked towards that of a DJ, she could run a smooth operation.  Give her a few knobs and switches to control sound levels.

What’d be more satisfying than hearing her reducing the Eton boy’s volume as he refuses to finish his turn? The airhead in the crowd who we’ve heard enough shouting from? Mute him. The whole debacle might tend towards concision and – dream big – honesty if shouting no longer guaranteed being heard.

Mali Kakembo

I'm an enthusiastic journalist at that geeks out over hip-hop and history in my free time. In my own time, I play football poorly and daydream of skiing more often.