THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES…
Democracy is electronic these days. Television is all. Look at the history from poor Richard Nixon in 1960 (he looked shifty and he never changed that image until he resigned in 1973) to ‘Clegg-Mania’ in the UK in the 2010 election.
Third party leader Clegg looked the part on stage with Gordon Brown and David Cameron in the three Prime Ministerial debates. He became their equal. The British public nearly fell for it. Clegg is now Deputy Prime Minister. TV works.
You have a big election coming up here in October. Bill hears there are various media houses trying to arrange a debate or debates for the wannabe Presidents. Bill will offer his advice to them – whoever they are! Do it together or not at all.
In the UK all the broadcasters acted as one. The politicians fell into line–eventually. If you do it separately, then it will have no legitimacy.
Two or three PNC/PPP debates make no sense to anybody.
Negotiate the terms and conditions in advance. The UK agreement ran to many pages and scores of clauses. Leave no room for dispute. Keep all parties aboard. You cannot have a debate without the main men in the election. Ignore the minnows. Don’t be bullied by anybody. You are their funnel to the electorate.
Bill produced an election debate on GTV in 2001. Desmond Hoyte refused to come. He was replaced by an empty chair without demur. No co-operation; no on air presence.
Make it an event and make it look good. The British ones attracted record audiences. The PM debates dominated the campaign. Never forget, it is television and has to tell a story and be dramatic. It has to dominate the debate in the minibuses the next morning and by the water coolers.
Ensure your team and your moderators are trusted. Not easy in Guyana. Bring them in from abroad. Too many in this country — on all sides–carry too much baggage. Import somebody without any history.
Remember at the end of the day the Debates are there to inform and educate. Not to settle old scores. Put your point of view or grind irons. You are the messenger not the message.
The Guyanese public deserves you to inform them as fully as you can .On air you can encourage and settle debates. You can inform the electorate. If you don’t then the streets will explode. That will be your fault…