Political analysts unimpressed with leadership debate

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Journalists Franklyn McKnight and Dionne Jackson Miller prepare to pose questions to party leaders Andrew Holness and Portia Simpson Miller during last night's national leadership debate at Lecture Theatre Three in the Faculty of Law at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus in St Andrew. - Ian Allen/ Photographer
Political analysts have declared that Tuesday night's leadership debate involving Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Portia Simpson-Miller did little to sway undecided voters with a week to go before the General Election. As assessments come in on the face-off between the two leaders and the impact it will have on electors the general view is that neither Mr. Holness nor Mrs. Simpson-Miller offered anything new. At the same time, both received passing grades for their responses during the one hour event staged by the Jamaica Debates Commission. Jamaicans at home and abroad closely monitored the much publicised debate to determine which of the leaders would outdo the other in taking on the questions posed to them. They ranged from topics such as tackling the country's debt, the Dudus extradition matter, corruption, to the issue of homosexuals holding Cabinet positions. Political Analyst, Shalman Scott, says based on the responses to the questions there was no clear top debater. Social Commentator Judith Wedderburn gave a more critical response. She believes both leaders were lacking in some areas. UWI Professor Rupert Lewis, who says Mrs. Simpson-Miller performed better than she has in past debates, gave her the edge over Mr. Holness. "On the realistic side of politics I think Andrew was very good in terms of his idealism, but given the crisis that we have I think there was more realism and more political appreciation of our situation [from Simpson Miller] than I got from Holness. I give Simpson Miller the edge," Professor Lewis said. And during the debate the two leaders were asked their opinion on homosexuals serving in the Cabinet. Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding had declared that gays would not be included in his team of Ministers. In his response, Mr. Holness gave no firm position on the issue. "My sentiments reflect the sentiments of the country. The Prime Minister has discretion but that discretion cannot be exercised in a vacuum," Mr. Holness said. For her part the Opposition Leader said persons should be appointed to the Cabinet based on their ability to serve and not on their sexual orientation.
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