15 April 2010

How to Score the First Blow in the Leaders' Debate

The "no applause" rule imposed on the studio audience for the three leaders' debates has been widely ridiculed. The only purpose it serves is to protect the leaders from audience scrutiny.

So here's how a leader could get tonight's historic first debate off the ground with an instant plus to them:

Spend the last 5 seconds of your opening remarks stating that this rule should be scrapped, and ask the other leaders if this is OK with them.

First, this would go down well with the public. It would show a willingness to shake things up.

Second, it would go down especially well with the audience, and would warm them to you for the rest of the debate.

Third, it would immediately put your opponents on the spot: either they agree with your request, and make it look like you've shown leadership, or they oppose it, appear defensive and in need of protection from the public's reaction.

I of course hope it is Nick Clegg who deploys this opening gambit. It would also seem that he is most likely to: Paul Waugh reports that it was Labour and the Tories who insisted on the clapping ban, despite opposition from the Lib Dems and broadcasters.


Anonymous said...

I think its a good rule. I think this because there will more than likely be mainly Tory and Labour voters in the audience who will (regardless of whats said) boo and jeer at Cam and Brown. Due to less support for the Lib Dems this may mean Clegg would get less claps (unfairly) or even let off unfairly!

I just think people underestimate how influential the audience reaction may be to the leaders.

Andrew said...

I forget, was it Santos or Vinnick who pioneered this move?

Duncan Stott said...

This is where my lack of West Wing knowledge lets me down...

Martin said...

Vinick: S7E7