News | Published November 21 2019

Johnson v Corbyn proves A&I Group’s point

Tuesday evening’s ITV debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn has attracted a great deal of comment, in The Parliamentary Review and elsewhere.

Some people are focusing on Mr Johnson’s Theresa May-esque habit of endlessly repeating the same line about his Brexit deal. Others are reiterating the prime minister’s argument that Mr Corbyn was singularly unable to tell viewers whether or not he would campaign for Remain or Leave in any future EU referendum.

A YouGov poll immediately after the event, asking who won the debate, saw 51% of respondents opt for Mr Johnson and 49% for Mr Corbyn. Labour supporters will say that this score draw was a positive for their man, given how far behind he is in the polls. Whereas Conservatives will point to those self-same polls and argue that a defensive performance, free of decisive blows, was exactly what the doctor ordered.

One aspect of the debate that has received less attention is the staging of the event itself. It is no easy task to get perhaps the two most high-profile politicians in the country together, along with a carefully balanced studio audience, and ensure that the spectacle is a success.

Sound, lighting and choreography all have to be taken into account. And on balance, despite using a stage that somewhat resembled their popular gameshow The Cube, it’s fair to say that ITV carried the whole thing off without a hitch.

This debate is of course just one of myriad events taking place up and down the country during this pre-Christmas election campaign. There will be more televised debates and far more stump-speeches, rallies and interviews.

Behind every single one of these will be a team desperately trying to ensure everything goes to plan.

Someone who knows a great deal about these sorts of pressures is Ian Williamson, managing director of A&I Group.

Based in Leicestershire, A&I is a company that specialises in offering conferences, exhibitions, motivation programmes and customer recognition programmes.

They work across the country, dealing with businesses of around 100 staff right up to those who employ 40,000+.

For A&I, every event is crucial. ‘Second chances are seldom,’ Williamson told The Parliamentary Review, ‘so it’s necessary at every junction of our business to commit unerringly to excellence and efficacy.’

To ensure their events are a success, A&I work with trusted contractors who are experts in their particular fields- whether that’s lighting, sound or choreography.

Something of which the viewers of the Johnson-Corbyn debate may have been unaware is that collaboration is essential to running these events properly. You need to ensure that the best people are engaged with each area of the event.

‘One of the ways we achieve this,’ says Williamson, ‘is by understanding the quality of the contractors and suppliers we utilise in our operations – not taking shortcuts in this regard is crucial. Doing this, too, requires knowing what questions to ask – a skill that can only be developed through hard experience.’

Just as a successful political campaign requires a good deal more than a figurehead, a well-run event, political or otherwise, needs a great deal of oversight, an understanding of collaboration and a keen attention to detail. If you get that right, you can let the event speak for itself.

All in all, the fact that no-one is talking about the production of Johnson v Corbyn is a very positive sign as far as ITV are concerned.

Authored by

The Parliamentary Review

November 21 2019

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