Tuesday night’s ITV head-to-head debate between the two main party leaders showed a fairly polished but serious looking Jeremy Corbyn and a Boris Johnson who focused on the slogan “get Brexit done” too many times but with many friendly gestures. However, questions were raised by many, including those who used to work with Boris, why he agreed to such a debate when he had everything to lose and not much to gain.
In the end an independent You Gov poll suggested that Boris won 51% to 49% which is definitely not a ringing endorsement for the Conservatives. In fact, one could argue that this narrow split between the two candidates is about how the country is split on Brexit and other issues.
It is very doubtful if anyone learnt anything new from this live debate or if they can safely say, they will now vote for one of these candidates to become Prime Minister.
The debate was annoying. Every time Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn developed an argument, the anchor, Julie Etchingham, said thank you, thank you, we need to move on. The time limits were to short and the format simply did not work, which was not the fault of the presenter, but of ITV. A debate must be allowed to flow and this one didn’t.
British TV election debates have been around since 2010 but they look like they are still experimenting with the idea. The American networks do these debates SO much better.
I would like to see a debate for 90 minutes, keep the audience if you wish but don’t take questions from them or messages coming into the show. Let the candidates go at it with the occasional intervention for clarity.
Corbyn was asked about anti-Semitism within his party and he responded erroneously that every case had been investigated and dwelt with. But according to some Labour MPs, party members and the BBC Panorama show, this is completely not untrue.
Mr Corbyn also insisted that under the Tory’s, the NHS will be privatised. But Labour have said this for decades and considering the Conservatives have been in power more times than Labour since 1951, if they were going to privatise the NHS, they probably would have done by now.
Mr Johnson’s reply on his NHS spending of £34 billion along with 40 new hospitals is also highly questionable and would probably not stand the fact check scrutiny.
The hand shaking between the two candidates in the middle of the debate and suggested by the anchor was probably the biggest cringe of the night.
This was the first of many live debates to come and although the parties are all about to release their manifestos, a survey showed that both Boris and Jeremy are equally distrusted on the NHS, although many believe Boris will move Brexit along if he receives a majority with his 635 Conservative candidates standing.