Hardly any commentators have pointed out that these debates are a retrograde step and pose a serious danger to our democracy. Here's why:
- they place too much emphasis on the "personality" of the leaders. Would Clement Attlee have accepted an invitation to a TV debate with Churchill had the facility been available, and if he had, would he have won?
- there is a possibility that a silly slip or a clever quip could turn the whole election, which should be about the issues;
- our system of government is not presidential, but parliamentary, with an executive lead by a cabinet and not a president. The dangers of presidential leadership without the checks and balances of separation of powers and a written constitution (as in the USA) are well illustrated by Mrs Thatcher's arrogance, which gave us the poll tax, and Tony Blair's "sofa style" leadership, which lead to the illegal and highly damaging war in Iraq;
- the emphasis on the Leader rather than the cabinet is making the job of prime Minister impossible and will undoubtedly lead to future errors and incompetences.
Why not a series of debates with party spokespersons, in turn, discussing education, defence, home affairs, the environment etc., perhaps culminating in one leaders' "free for all"? That would put the emphasis where it ought to be and the leaders' positions into perspective.