Thoughts on the UK political televised debates coming up this year…

Recently we have been hearing that there will be three live debates, featuring the three main political party leaders in the UK, broadcast live on TV, before the election day coming up this year (currently widely assumed to be May 6th).

The idea is based upon the similar American debates that happen on the other side of the Atlantic – and usually, a political strategy that has crossed the pond to us usually has me worried. But not this one…

To sum up for those who don’t know, here is a short quote about the debates from a Guardian news article:

The first programme, to be presented by ITN’s Alastair Stewart, will cover domestic affairs and come from the north-west. The second show, presented by Sky’s Adam Boulton, will cover foreign affairs and come from the south-west. The third, presented by the BBC’s David Dimbleby, will cover the economy – seen as the most important election issue – and will be broadcast from the Midlands.

And here are my main opinions:

  • Firstly, the three debates are on three different broadcasters (starting with ITV1, followed by Sky News, and lastly the BBC), meaning there can be no ‘blame’ or ‘bias’ to a single broadcaster or host for a single show. I know it’s against broadcasting law to be politically bias, not just for the BBC, but for all channels in the UK, but I suspect Sky News will show their true right wing colours at some point… or maybe thats just me.
  • I am also interested to see that none of the three debates will be held in London, but in varying locations across the country. I would like to see at least one set somewhere in the countryside, so people who don’t live in urban areas (which makes up rather a large proportion of the UK’s population) feel their opinions are heard.
  • Which party will benefit most? For me, the Lib Dems. As mentioned on a Question Time debate a few days ago, the Lib Dems will be on the same level or debate as both the Tories and Labour. I suspect that a larger proportion of the mainstream public will change their viewpoints to the Lib Dems.
  • I am also glad to see some of the ‘strict’ rules put in place for the debates’ format. One that particularly grabbed my eye was the rule that the audience may not applaud during the live debate, and will only do so at the beginning at the end of the show. By not applauding, TV audiences will not be influenced to what the party leaders say based upon what the studio audience thinks. That to me, is a good thing, as the public needs to make their own mind up.
  • I am, however, not happy at the reaction given by some of the smaller parties, such like The Green Party, UKIP, the SNP, etc. The thing is, these live debates are for the mainstream, large parties, which are their to promote a future prime minister, not to reinforce opinions of local MP’s – which is what these smaller parties need. Plus, the SNP and Plaid Cymru can bugger off, their policies have nothing to do with me living in England – don’t you dare say that their opinions need to be heard throughout the UK!

So, finally – my political opinion? Well, as I have made it clear before, I am more of a right-wing person, but I will promise myself to base my political opinion solely on the outcome of these debates… this should be interesting!

Sources: BBC News / The Guardian / Sky News / PA; Image source: Sky News

Update: Here is a good graphic I have created to summarise the 3 debates and their dates:

Screen shot 2010-04-12 at 17.09.26

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