Sky News: Mark Penn Says Politics is the Real Winner of the UK Election Debates

US Expert Reveals The Real Debate ‘Winner’

By MARK PENN, US debates expert
Published April 30, 2010

After the media frenzy around “Bigotgate”, last night’s third and final TV debate took place took under a surreal backdrop.

Gordon Brown’s comments about Gillian Duffy were disastrous not just because of the offence it may have caused to (former) Labour voters.

It also took away the one remaining opportunity for Labour strategists to change the narrative of the election and it meant all eyes were on Brown to see how he would handle it.

…The final debate is over. The moment of choice will soon be upon us. After three debates, the clear winner has actually been British politics. Facing public anger and disillusionment for the past few years, especially after the expenses scandal, Iraq and the recession, the introduction of US-style leadership debates transformed a dull and formulaic campaign into something that truly engaged the country in politics once again….

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Sky News: Mark Penn’s Analysis of the Second UK Election Debate

Rub-A-Dub-Snub! Are Leaders Scrubbing Up?

By MARK PENN, US debates expert
Published April 23, 2010

If the first election debate spawned a new political catchphrase – “I agree with Nick” – the second debate in Bristol saw the line abandoned.

After watching Nick Clegg’s popularity soar in the last week, both David Cameron and Gordon Brown sought to use the foreign affairs debate to show why they don’t agree with the Lib Dem leader, on a range of policies from the Euro and immigration to Trident and nuclear power.

They had to restrategise, and they did.

Mr Brown and Mr Cameron had to wake up to the changed reality of an electorate tired with the old and fascinated by the possibility of new.

Mr Cameron had to show that only he represents real change and Mr Brown had to show that Lib Dems are a risk to future prosperity.

They both did better, but Mr Clegg still stands as a real force in the election and as someone who can mobilise young people.

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Sky News: Mark Penn Offers Advice for Next UK Election Debate to Brown, Cameron & Clegg

UK Leaders’ Debate: Lessons For Next Time

By MARK PENN, US debates expert
Published April 16, 2010

The first UK election debate brought with it a real sense of interest and expectation.

Would there be a knock-out blow? Would any of the candidates slip up? How would they cope with the intense scrutiny and interrogation under the hot TV studio lights for 90 minutes?

At the end, many viewers may feel their expectations weren’t quite met.

There was no “you’re no Jack Kennedy” moment and none of the candidates lost their way.

In fact the only one who seemed really flustered by the experience was ITV’s host Alastair Stewart.

Yet there is still much to learn from the performances of the leaders in the first debate.

And it may well shift the political sands – it will take a few days to see how the real polls shift, but Labour may find itself with deeper problems, pecked upon from both the left and the right.

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Sky News: Mark Penn Says Low Expectations For Debates Are A Blessing

Debates: Low Expectations Are A Blessing

By MARK PENN, US debates expert
Published April 12, 2010

Ten years ago, the American presidential race was shaped by a debate that pitted the successor to a popular president against a self-described moderate Republican running on “compassionate conservatism”.

In those debates, George W. Bush managed to sell himself as Clinton’s logical heir, while Vice President Al Gore – despite his vast experience and policy bona fides – came off as a stereotypical tax-and-spend liberal.

Against all odds, Bush came out on top.

Bush won those debates not thanks to his verbal acuity or grasp of the issues, but because he outperformed the public’s expectations by seeming just knowledgeable enough on policy and foreign affairs.

As we have seen time and time again in the US, and as Britain will soon learn, it is the candidate that beats his own expectations who will win the debate.

Going into a debate, low expectations are a blessing.

Today, Britain’s first presidential-style debates are running on some fairly similar tracks.

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Wall Street Journal: Mark Penn Discusses Political Challenges Facing World Leaders

WSJ’s Kelsey Hubbard speaks with CEO of Burson-Marsteller about the challenges that world leaders will be facing and how deep these issues actually are and his reaction to the Prime Minister’s ideas.