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First TV debate: Why Character Matters

Tonight, will see the first TV debate between two of the party leaders as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn go head-to-head on ITV from 8pm.

The debate will be hosted by Julie Etchingham and is the first time we’ll see the two leaders in front of a live studio audience debating policies and campaign pledges.

I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to these debates. I used to love them. Back in 2010 when they first happened, I thought it was a brilliant idea.

But ever since then, it just seems as if they’re more about making a lot of noise without having any real impact on the contest. I think they confirm what people already think, rather than changing anyone’s mind.

More than that, I think the TV debates suggests our politics is presidential in nature and we’re encouraged to think that in voting we’re choosing our leader.

But British politics does not work like that. At the election we’re not choosing a Prime Minister directly. We’re voting for a local MP, who will engage with issues in our constituencies.

Having said all that, I’ll still be watching it. Here’s why.

1. Character matters

The character of our leaders’ matters. As a Christian, with a Christian worldview I cannot ignore the moral character of those who want to hold the highest public office in the land. The Bible teaches that leaders set an example for the nation to follow. While the PM is not a King like in Bible times, it is clear that from a Christian perspective, certain character traits are especially praised. According to the bible, good leaders show humility, servant-heartedness, kindness and compassion. I want to learn whether the leaders have any of these qualities.

2. TV debates reveal character

With that in mind, that’s tonight’s TV debates provide a window into the character of two of the most prominent leaders in our politics. As Johnson and Corbyn debate tonight, I’ll be able to see their reactions, hear their tone and watch as they debate together. There’s nothing like the glare of the spotlight and pressure of being live in front of millions of viewers to draw out the character of a leader. In particular, how they interact with each other will be key. Will they stoop to ‘gutter politics’ or will they show respect and civility? These things do matter.

3. One caveat

But as I watch, I’m reminded too that all our politicians are human beings like the rest of us. Even the best of men are but men at best. It would be a pointless exercise to watch the TV debate if I’m looking for perfection. I believe all are sinful and fall short of God’s glory. So, I’ll watch with my eyes open to the fact these are two flawed characters. And I’ll be praying for them as well. The spotlight can be unforgiving to those who mess up.

ITV Leaders’ Debate

The Leaders Debate will be shown at 8pm on ITV. Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson will go head-to-head in a debate chaired by Julie Etchingham.

James Mildred

CARE Communications Manager