Political

Ten predictions for the general election televised party leader debates

1. Military language will be the order of the day for debate pundits. Fighting to the finish, knock out blows and accounts of who is ahead on points: deploy your military phraseology at dawn.

2. 99% of pundits who have previously expressed support for a party will declare that party’s leader the real winner from each debate – even if the party and leader did not appear in the debate.

3. Each party participating in the debate will say beforehand that its leader is not going to easily best the other leaders – and will say afterwards that its leader did easily best the other leaders.

4. There will be a battle over worms.

5. At least one party will run a real time online rebuttal and evidence service, posting up online evidence to bolster what one leader has said and to undermine what other leaders have said.

6. Even though there is plenty of evidence that men and women often view the skills deployed in verbal debating differently, punditry will overwhelmingly come from male commentators who will make comments that rest on the assumption men and women think alike.

7. There will be a plethora of instant polls immediately after each debate. They will be of questionable usefulness (see all those post-budget quickie polls which failed to get the long term political impact of budgets right). But they’ll be better than relying on pundits or vox pops.

8. Clips from the debate will rapidly circulate on YouTube, Facebook and elsewhere, providing a major online part of the post-debate fall out.

9. My one-person campaign to badger journalists who only refer to the US when talking about TV debates (despite the many Parliamentary democracies which also have them – and are far better guides for the UK having much more similar political system to us) will sweep to glorious victory as The Guardian and Daily Telegraph duel it out to give the most detailed coverage of controversies over microphone location in 1980s Canadian political debates.

10. And finally: I won’t score full marks for my predictions.

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