by MONITOR
IN this space exactly one week ago, immediately following the decision of Conservative MPs that David Cameron and David Davis should contest the final round of the party's leadership contest, we asked whether there was any possibility that Conservative Party members and the country as a whole might have the chance of seeing the two Davids in debating action against one another. It seems that we might very well have this opportunity, and as soon as next Thursday, November 3. If the plans are finalised the venue will be David Dimbleby's Question Time on BBC1, the programme that brought the three party leaders together just before the general election earlier this year. The importance of this encounter may reach beyond the immediate issue of the Conservative leadership because, if advance reports are correct, what is envisaged is a US-style Presidential debate in which the contenders face each other in a carefully controlled format which prevents the kind of shouting match that can take place in the House of Commons. In other words, one candidate makes a statement in response to a question and the other gives his rebuttal. It is not a true debate, but it is better than nothing or than the separate question-and-answer slot for each candidate used in the general election Question Time format. Could this Conservative innovation lead to a direct confrontation of the same kind between the party leaders before the next general election? Such a debate is very much overdue. Before we reach that point we should congratulate David Cameron and David Davis for their agreement to face each other. The former, as the front-runner, has most to lose, while the latter will hope that he can make up for what he now admits was a poor performance at the Conservative Party conference. But why only one debate? Let's have two or three!

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