Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

  • Author, By Mishal Husain
  • Role, Presenter, BBC Prime Ministerial Debate

On Wednesday night, on a debate stage built in an atrium at Nottingham Trent University, the two men who want to lead the country will face each other directly for the last time in this election campaign.

As Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer go head-to-head, I’ll be chairing the 75-minute debate, aiming to get voters’ questions answered – and as fully as possible.

I see the role as a privilege, but I know it won’t be easy and there have been times I’ve wished someone else was at the helm and I could watch from my sofa. But those moments pass.

These events come around rarely and have a very special quality – at their heart is democracy unfiltered, where people can speak directly to those who have power and those who seek it.

With millions of others watching, listening, and forming judgements, it can be an unforgiving spotlight for the leaders. But with little more than a week to polling day, the stakes are high and they have to be up to that scrutiny.

I’ve done two seven-way leaders’ debates before, in 2017 and earlier this month. Each time there are different complexities, and while you prepare by honing your knowledge of each party’s key policies – and their points of difference – you also want spontaneity and energy. A proper debate, really, rather than speech-making.

The live audiences are chosen by the pollsters Savanta, not the BBC, and for this Prime Ministerial Debate they’ll include Conservative and Labour supporters as well as undecided voters.

We will say this at the beginning of the programme, for maximum transparency, and also explain why the two men are standing where they are and the order in which they will deliver their closing thoughts. Spoiler – it’s a coin toss.

You can watch the debate live on BBC iPlayer and on BBC One, tonight, Wednesday 26 June at 20:15 BST.

More details on how to follow the debate, as well as future and past debates from this campaign, can be found here.

Once we’re into the flow, the debate will run straight through, for an hour and a quarter. Where necessary, I will be nudging the two men back to what was in the question, clarifying points, and yes, probably having to call a halt from time to time.

I can’t predict how the overall tone will be, because that depends on the debaters, for whom these 75 minutes carry both opportunity and risk. They will not know what questions are coming, and the experience will be exacting and possibly, exposing.

But it is also a route through which they can reach millions of people – some of them yet to decide how they will cast their vote.

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#Mishal #Husain #Ill #referee #BBC #leaders #debate #voters #heart

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