On the benefits of debating

The excellent Tim Hames suggests in his article in today's Times that Gordon Brown should agree to a debate with David Cameron during the next general election campaign.

I think that is very bad advice - at least for Gordon Brown. One only needs to consider the last open election in the US: 2000. Even in the debate Al Gore felt best about - the third - he did not do terribly well. On balance people felt he had 'won' the debate, just as he 'won' the first. But detailed questioning revealed something else. Gore expressed himself clearly and had a strong grasp of facts and policy. Many people agreed with what he said. But they did not find him likeable, and all three debates led to an improvement in Bush's polling and a decline in Gore's.

Surely it is clear than in a British context, Brown is Gore. No-one doubts that he is clever and knowledgeable. But he is not likeable. Labour's best chance at the next election is to keep Gordon Brown away from the camera as much as possible.

For the detailed polling on the third debate in 2000 see here

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