To be or not to be…

In 2010 TV debates entered the world of the British General Election. The debates which have featured in American politics for fifty years were a new addition to the electoral landscape in the UK.
They were proposed in the 1980s and again in 1997 but both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair in turn refused to take part- however after popular support from both Nick Clegg and David Cameron and with Gordon Brown taking the view that things couldn’t really get any worse – a series of debates went ahead. The now rather clichéd line of ‘I agree with Nick’ became synonymous with the event.

To most voters and those in the media it seemed obvious that these popular spectacles should be replayed in 2015. However when the format of the debate was announced several weeks ago- Ofcom stated that only the major parties should take part, the only parties they classified as major were the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP. For Nigel Farage this was a moment of potential triumph being classified as the political equal of the PM, the Deputy PM and the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. However David Cameron’s response to this was a refusal to participate unless the Greens were also allowed a place at the podium. The refusal of the incumbent PM to take part initially looked as though it would scupper the 2015 edition of the TV debates.

In public Cameron’s argument was that the Greens should be treated as the equal of UKIP and the Lib Dems. With 1 MP and polling figures and membership figures in the region of the Liberal Democrats Cameron felt they too deserved a space on the podium. However, most observers were not convinced by Cameron’s apparent show of solidarity with the Greens. It was well known that Lynton Crosby (Conservative Electoral Strategist) and George Osborne both felt that David Cameron should not take part in the debates and that he had more to loose and little to gain from participating.

However, the broadcasters have redesigned their plans to schedule two Miliband v Cameron head- to- heads on BBC and ITV and two debates on Channel 4 and Sky with all 7 major parties (Con, Lab, Lib, Green, UKIP plus the SNP and Plaid Cymru) participating.
There are two good articles on this story below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30955379

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/the-debate-about-debates-there-needs-to-be-a-clearer-rationale-for-debate-invitations/

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