Matthew vs Melissa: It’s all over now

Matthew and Melissa

Last week Matthew and Melissa debated whether the burka should be banned. Matthew said yes and 59% of those who voted agreed with him.

This week Matthew reveals why the debates are now at an end:

Personally, I blame Mrs Todd. I find it easier that way. It was her idea, a few months ago, to begin this series of debates that Kathy Bailes – the editor of The Isle of Thanet News – graciously accepted within her pages.

Melissa had rightly noticed that she and I both liked a good debate, and never shied away from a conversation on topics that interested us – and a lot of things interested us. What we discovered, however, was that we agreed on a lot more than we disagreed on; in one sense, that was lovely, as we could put the world to rights in a shared view of the world.

But there were also topics on which we disagreed, or at least had enough of an ambivalence about that we could argue on either side of the topic. So we both agreed that it might be worthwhile for us to have a series of debates over the past three months on things that particularly interest us – and, hopefully by extension, you as well. We’ve touched on everything from space exploration to Manston – and boy, that was a perennial hot topic which kick-started a huge debate. But I can’t pretend to be surprised; some passions run deep.

Melissa and I spoke in the week – we always do, to agree on our next topic – and we were really struggling to come up with an idea we could debate. We then came to a horrified conclusion; had we really come to the end of the topics on which we disagreed? Surely not? That would be the end of civilisation as we know it. I even suggested the thorny subject of bus travel, but we couldn’t find enough of a starting point to debate that with any fundamental disagreement.

So we came to a heavy conclusion; that it was time for us to wind up our regular debates. We couldn’t imagine people wanting to read two people agreeing with each other on the same subject; the entire point of debate pieces is that we offer two points of view, and if we don’t believe in them, then how could we convey our passions to the readers?

It’s been such fun to regularly debate an opponent on such a variety of topics. We agreed right from the start that we wouldn’t share our own pieces with our opposite numbers until they were already in print, so the first person to see both of our arguments together was our esteemed editor, Kathy, and we got the chance to read each others’ point of view when they were published. This was a lovely way to write, as we had to really consider the arguments and try to defend our position based on what we knew or imagined the main opposition points would be. It certainly challenged me to really make sure I was being logical and measured in my opinions. Whether I succeeded is up for others to judge.

It’s therefore adieu to our regular column, but not goodbye forever; if topics come up that Melissa and I disagree on, then I know we’ll be sharing those views – and if anyone wants to suggest topics for us to discuss, then get in touch; we’re open to suggestions.

In the meantime, we’ve still got our own individual columns within the The isle of Thanet News, and it’s a genuine pleasure to engage my debating muscles against a worthy opponent. Until the next time, Mrs Todd!


  1. Your debates were a delight. And the sooner they resume,even sporadically, the better. Just a pity that some of those involved on the Manston campaign belong to the Tamanny Hall School of Politics: in the words of the immortal satirist Finley Peter Dunne’s creature ‘Mr Dooley’, they decided to “Vote early, vote often!” But the remaining votes appear to shed real light upon how locals think (which when all is said and done is as important as the passion and quality which you both brought to the table. Thank you, both.

  2. I thought the voting re Manston was a hoot! It certainly showed how easily manipulated surveys and petitions can be.

  3. Oh tosh, Dr. Pritchard! Just a bit of fun! And it shows how easy it is to manipulate surveys and online petitions.

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