The Modern Way Of Debating
The item below is a transcript of a conversation between George, the chairman of a political constituency party, and Adrian, his deputy. The discussion concerns which aspirant they should choose to stand for Parliament when the incumbent member retires at the forthcoming general election.
George: I think what we have to keep in mind here is that this country has an adversarial culture. It thrives on ideological disputes. You can see that in the way that we are usually divided roughly down the middle with so many issues. My wife’s into astrology and she reckons that it’s all attributable to the UK being under the influence of Gemini, the twins, which she says explains our split personalities, individual and national. Funny thing is that with regard to politics, we seem to insist on having pronounced left and right, though there is plenty of evidence suggesting that we dislike extremes. That’s a paradox.
Adrian: It certainly is, George. However, we don’t have much time to reach a conclusion. Anyway, we both know the state of play. There are threee candidates we and we must pick one of them.
George: Do you have a preference?
Adrian: I’m not sure what to say, George. Let’s take the men first. I’m thinking of the latest uproar in the house, when that pair from the same party got stuck into one another. Some say it was just a scuffle and others reckon it was good enough to grace a boxing ring. It seems to me we should learn from that. I mean, if this is the way we’re going to settle things in future, I’d say we need a lad who can handle himself in a battle. No softies need apply, right?
George: I agree. Now, we have these two chaps, John Black and Bill White, but this is far from a black and white issue. Black’s a hefty one. He outweighs White by some margin and he’s a fair bit taller – and then there’s that dark, craggy face. I don’t mind admitting that it scares me. Also, they say he has some experience of fisticuffs, so I imagine he’d come out better in a scrap.
Adrian: I’m not so sure. There’s no doubt he has it for avoirdupois but I saw him in action once. His problem is ring craft. He’s a southpaw, so he should lead with the right and save his left to hand out the Sunday punch. He does the opposite, so when it comes to the knockout blow, his left might be too weary to deliver it. Not very intelligent, I’d say.
George: All right. What’s your assessment of White?
Adrian: I don’t know how good he is at handing out punishment, but he can certainly take it. He called on me at home a while ago and left in a hurry to see someone else. He swung round and banged his head against the edge of my kitchen door with an impact I can still hear. Burst his nose and went into the bathroom bleeding like a stuck pig. Came out a couple of minutes later with tissue wadded in his nostrils and an ugly red stripe down his forehead from hairline to eyebrows. When I got solicitous, he told me to stop fussing. Head like a rock, that man. He’s pretty agile too, so I wouldn’t rule him out.
George: Okay, so much for the men. What about the woman, Ms Brown?
Adrian: She’s an economist.
George: Well, we all have our faults. What I mean is how would she shape up in a mano a mano?
Adrian: Well, she’s much lighter than either of the men, but very nimble. Sort of floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee, if you see what I mean.
George: Thank you, Muhammad Ali. Can she take a punch?
Adrian: She might not need to. I’ve never seen her in a brawl, but I have watched her on a dance floor and believe me she can gyrate. Whirls like a Dervish. If she were to try conclusions with our two blokes, I doubt that either of them would lay a finger on her. And she can wield a rolled up brolly to good effect.
George: I see. This isn’t going to be as simple as I’d thought. I was convinced that John Black would be our first choice, with his bulk and that terrifying visage. Now I’m doubtful. Look, you know all three applicants better than I do, so I think the best thing is for you to get them together. Dream up some spurious reason for them to visit you in a spot where there’s plenty of room, then try to goad them into combat and we’ll see what happens.
Adrian: I’ll do my best. See you a week today and let you know how things are going.
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