Letter: Law backs Ashdown on TV debate

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is disturbing that the chairman of the Conservative Party appears fundamentally to misunderstand the nature of the British general election ("Major sets terms for TV debate", 17 March).

Brian Mawhinney says that the purpose of any televised pre-election debate (between leaders of two of the very many organisations putting up candidates) would be to facilitate "a choice of two possible prime ministers".

However, despite desperate attempts by the main parties to Americanise the election process, by using cynical market research techniques to recast their propaganda and by personalising the political fight, our election process is not presidential.

A well-chaired radio debate with a panel drawn from all the parties fielding candidates would be a much better idea. It would obviate all visual presentational distractions and focus minds on nothing but the quality of argument.

Dr GARY SLAPPER

The Law School

Staffordshire University

Stoke-on-Trent

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