The debate challenge from the UWP leadership will undoubtedly set a new elevated tone for the next general elections.

In an age when the level of education in the country has grown exponentially in recent times, it is somewhat demoralizing to see the level of political discussion in the country stagnate. Given all of the monies spent to bring the level of education where it is today, it is past time to elevate the quality and depth of political interaction beyond the traditional "mepuis" and misinformation that has been the staple of past political campaigns.

So yes, there should be debates along the lines the opposition proposed, although there may be room for negotiation to allow for minor changes to the schedule to accommodate DLP wishes.

It would be enlightening, informative and uplifting, to say the least. It would make a clear and unambiguous statement about the seriousness we bring to the important task of electioneering and the exercise of our civic responsibility.

If the prime minister fails to belly up to the bar, as I fear he will, it can only be because he is a veritable coward, unwilling or unable to show his substance, perhaps out of fear that the public will discover that he has none.

It cannot be good for enlightened democracy for a sitting prime minister to evade his moral duty to partake in a debate that has the promise of educating the electorate about the choices they are called upon to make. Absent the debate, the next election season will degenerate into the kind of disgraceful name calling and rum shop atmosphere that has been the staple of elections past.

Given the rising educational standards in the country and the public's familiarity of election standards witnessed in other countries via television, a prime minister who famously trashed the UWP leader for not having a university degree would be seen to be acting solely in his own selfish interest if he were to sidestep the debate out of fear that the debate would be his undoing. But the truth is the debate would not just be about the prime minister. It would be more about the electorate who must be trusted to hear all the facts before they are expected to make an informed voting decision.

The educated class of the country should come forward and proclaim that the days of mepuis and outright lies in the election process belong in the past, not in this era of enlightenment. Besides, the prime minister, a proud university graduate, ought to welcome the opportunity to showcase his brilliance and his command of policy, and to expose Linton for the novice he is often portrayed to be.

Indeed, if the prime minister fails to accept the historic debate challenge he would be sending the message that he lacks confidence, and perhaps, even substance.

Mr. Skerrit should not dock his responsibility to the electorate. The sanctity of our democracy will not allow him to play the role of the coward by hiding behind a rock to continue his misinformation as in the days of old. JBS