NEW POLL: should we have a televised leaders’ debate in the UK?

It’s not just the US electorate which has closely followed the three Presidential (and one vice-presidential) debates – much of the British political class has also been transfixed by the sheer theatre and high stakes involved in these face-offs.

In reality, all four debates have perhaps disappointed those expecting, or hoping for, ‘game-changing’ fireworks or gaffes from any of the candidates. Though as Martin Kettle put it in today’s Guardian:

Too many observers wait for someone to say something either utterly brilliant or staggeringly stupid. But that’s not what the debates are about. The real point of the debates is that they are opportunities to test the presidential timber of the candidate the viewers are probably going to vote for anyway.

I think this underestimates the role of the debates as soap boxes for the candidates; I’ve learned a fair amount about the policies of both Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin simply by listening to what they have to say, and that must surely be true of voters in the US, also, who will make up their minds in the process.

But enough of the US, here’s LDV’s new poll question: is it now time for the UK to introduce televised debates between the major party leaders prior to a general election? Your options are:

Yes, it is
No, it is not
Don’t know

The perennial argument agin doing so is that the British do not operate a presidential system. Which is, de facto, true, but strikes me as rather beside the point: the leaders are elected spokespersons for their parties, so it doesn’t seem too radical to suggest they might actually have a role in presenting and defending their policies in a debate with their rivals.

Well, that’s my view, what’s yours?

Read more by .
This entry was posted in Voice polls.
Advert

7 Comments

  • No. It doesn’t bear any correlation to how they are likely to perform: often there are well-packaged stuffed shirts, or those not quite so presentational who are in fact better candidates.

  • Different Duncan 17th Oct '08 - 8:00pm

    At the last election, there was a Question Time Special where each of the main party leaders was individually grilled by Mr Dimbleby and the audience for about half an hour each. The main difference between this and the American style debates is that they don’t appear on stage at the same time. While this difference is important, it completely negates the “not a presidential system” argument. I also think that it negates Asquith’s point too (as salient as it is).

    So it would seem that the argument is simply about the format of that programme. Having the party leaders on stage at the same time should be a livlier debate, so I vote yes. Whether Mr Clegg would get invited is another question…

  • Well Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France,etc,etc seem to have these debates and the sky doesn’t fall in there…why not give it a go, as long as it’s not Fiona Bruce or Huw Edwards doing the hosting!

  • A large majority of respondents think there should be televised debates, which means they take the opposite view to mine 🙂

  • Theory states that no British government has ever been elected by the people; we elect a local representative to present our position in Parliament.

    Practise demonstrates that any American President would give their hind teeth for the amount of power within their own country that the effective ‘elected dictator’ of the British Prime Minister has.

    Effectively, rather than the American electoral college of 538 members chosen out of 50 states, we have a 650 member electoral college, choosing someone with vastly more power than any President, grafted on top of the theory, which on some level does continue to hold sway.

    In short, we elect a bloody mess, and trying to figure out how many of the people voted on what grounds, be it for a person to be PM, a party to form the government, a party to represent them, a local campaigner to represent them, etc, is the preserve of pollsters. What we can do is try to get as much information out there as possible. The Canadian Prime Minister has to fight their way through two debates, one in English, one in French, before election. The Swedes have televised debates. The Germans have televised debates. None of these are directly electing their heads of government, but in all of them it is recognised and accepted that the people should have a chance to see their future leader defend their ideas in public against the alternatives.

    So it’s probably fairly obvious I voted ‘yes’. Although I did toy briefly with voting ‘no’, because this isn’t the time to start it, twenty years ago or more was the time to start it 😉

  • I set up a facebook group dedicated to this very idea a few weeks ago. Do join and spread the news:
    ‘Presidential-Style Debates in the UK’

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User Avatarexpats 24th Aug - 7:28am
    crewegwyn 23rd Aug '16 - 10:43pm......... “Staff moved people around” (how does that create more seats?); “a family was upgraded to First” (presumably Virgin would...
  • User AvatarMark Goodrich 24th Aug - 7:27am
    Cripes - people commenting "you only see what you want to see" should take the massive log out of their own eye first! Corbyn walks...
  • User AvatarEd Shepherd 24th Aug - 7:23am
    Citizens Income or Universal Basic Income is the only way forward. The benefits system we have still seems to be based on a long-gone world...
  • User AvatarSimon Freeman 24th Aug - 7:21am
    This is a serious issue which Corbyn has messed up on by pulling a daft stunt. If you want to highlight overcrowding on trains do...
  • User Avatartonyhill 24th Aug - 7:04am
    I agree with Dave Orbison. OK - maybe Corbyn was stretching the truth a bit, I don't know, but he was illustrating a truth. And...
  • User AvatarMartin Land 24th Aug - 7:04am
    Those of us familiar with the Labour Party will know that they will see this as a capitalist conspiracy and make it even more likely...