The first John Smith Centre Power Hour – The Briefing Room event looked at TV Debates and whether they matter, on the eve of the first US Presidential head to head.
Joining Kezia Dugdale in the Briefing Room were John Nicolson, former TV presenter and current SNP MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, Deputy Political Editor of the Spectator Katy Balls, and Tom Hamilton, former adviser to Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman and Jeremy Corbyn.
The panel considered what we should expect from the Trump/Biden debate, how candidates prepare, what goes on behind the scenes and whether debates actually change the hearts and minds of voters.
This online event was recorded on 29 September 2020. RUN TIME: 1hr 2mins
Tom Hamilton was head of research for the Labour Party and helped to prepare Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman and Jeremy Corbyn for PMQs as well as being part of Labour’s prep team for the 2015 election debates. He is the co-author of Punch & Judy Politics: An Insiders’ Guide to Prime Minister’s Questions. Tom is now associate director at WPI Strategy.
John Nicolson MP
John Nicolson is the Member of Parliament for Ochil and South Perthshire. He is SNP front bench spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and a member of the Commons DCMS Select Committee.
John was educated at Glasgow University and Harvard, winning a Kennedy Scholarship and a Harkness Fellowship. He was Scottish, John Smith Observer Mace, and World Student Debating Champion.
He began his career as a speechwriter on Capitol Hill for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York before returning home to work as a journalist. He has reported for and presented some of the BBC’s highest profile news and current affairs shows including ‘Newsnight’, ‘Public Eye’, ‘Assignment’ and ‘Panorama’. He was the main presenter of ‘BBC Breakfast’. The BBC won a Foreign Press Association award for live breaking news coverage of 9/11 which John anchored. He went on to present his own shows on ITV, LBC and Talk Radio.
He was the first BBC network presenter to come out as gay. He lives with his long term partner Juliano Zini.
Katy Balls is the Spectator‘s deputy political editor. She is a regular columnist for the i newspaper and a contributor to The Guardian. She was shortlisted for Political Commentator of the Year at the 2017 Press Awards. She is a host of the Spectator‘s daily politics podcast ‘Coffee House Shots’ and also presents her own Spectator podcast ‘Women With Balls’.
Kezia Dugdale is Director of the John Smith Centre and chair of the event. Prior to joining the John Smith Centre, Kezia led the Scottish Labour Party through four national elections and the EU referendum, taking part in countless TV debates along the way.