Tag Archives: leaders’ debates

Sal Brinton: Our democracy should not be in the hands of invisible corporate structures

Tonight the Liberal Democrats and SNP lost their court bid for inclusion in the ITV Leaders’ debate tomorrow night.

Sal Brinton was at the Royal Courts of Justice and had this to say afterwards:

The Liberal Democrats’ position in this election and that of our leader is unique: Jo Swinson is the only leader of a national party fighting to stop brexit.

“Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn should not be allowed to sidestep debating the issue of Brexit with someone who wants to remain, and ITV should not give them the opportunity to do so.

“That is why this is an incredibly disappointing verdict. Not just for the Liberal Democrats but also for democracy in this country, and for every remainer who deserves to have a voice in this debate.

“It is worrying that the Ofcom guidance allows TV Executives, not the voters, to decide whether the biggest issues of the day are debated openly in the ITV Debate.

“This campaign is undeniably dominated by Brexit, the single biggest issue for our country, perhaps in the last 75 years.

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Jo: Lib Dems will take any action required to make sure voice of Remain heard in debates

Surrounded by Lib Dem women candidates and MPs, Jo Swinson this afternoon said that the Lib Dems were considering legal action to make sure the voice of remain was heard in the leaders’ debates. Watch her here.

An hour or so later, Sky announced that she would be invited to take part in their debate:

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Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are too scared to debate Jo Swinson

So, ITV is holding a leaders’ debate of sorts.

They’ll have two divisive men fighting out which form of brexit they want on 19th December.

I can’t think why Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn  don’t want to be shown up by an assured, articulate, likeable woman presenting the argument for remain with vitality and emotional intelligence.

Ed Davey said they were running scared:

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Jo: Is he going to run scared of debating with a girly swot?

The smell of chicken pervades the political atmosphere this morning.

Probably the most predictable aspect of this General Election is that Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn would try to cut Jo Swinson out of the Leaders’s Debates. I mean, why would they want to be completely shown up by a fresh, original opponent with compelling arguments?

And so it looks very much like they are doing just that.

Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson told the BBC

However, when asked about a three-way discussion with Ms Swinson, the spokesman replied: “There are only two people who can be prime minister at the end of this campaign and I think the British public have a clear right to see them debate head-to-head on TV and hear their cases.”

And when Jo put Boris Johnson on the spot in  Parliament yesterday, he ignored her, choosing to make some bizarre crack about how Lib Dems were about dither and delay on Brexit. You couldn’t actually get much clearer than “Stop Brexit.” Watch here:

The exchange in full from Hansard:

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A proposal for tv leaders’ debates

I’ve been racking my brains about getting Theresa May to debate the other party leaders. With recent polls causing undisguised glee amongst Conservative MP’s and right-wing commentators, the perceived wisdom is that she really has nothing to gain from debating Tim, Nicola or even Jeremy and no pressure from a press led by the likes of The Daily Mail and Express to force her to do so. We need to change this.
The TV debates provide an opportunity for the PM to explain herself. If she is so sure of her approach to Brexit and the economy why won’t she take part? The answer, quoting Margaret Thatcher, is she’s “frit”. Anyone, having watched her lacklustre performances at PMQ’s, can see she is weak in debate. Forced into a corner she evades, quotes soundbites, launches personal attacks or relies on bluster from the MP’s behind her.
Given the likelihood that debates would damage her chances in the election the PM is unlikely to give in to a clamour to debate from fellow politicians. But could she resist a demand from the public?
For the first time and in order to overcome the current impasse I think that the general public should be asked to sponsor a series of prime time TV debates with pledges donated to charities such as Great Ormond Street or Help for Heroes.
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Save the date: 24 May for TV Leaders’ Debate

And it’ll be a good one, too.

No, Theresa and Jeremy haven’t overcome their fear of Tim Farron. This is the Scottish Leaders’ Debate where Willie Rennie will spend an hour and a half at 8:30 pm on STV debating Nicola Sturgeon, Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson.

From the STV website:

The Scottish debates are usually of pretty decent quality and you should be able to watch on the live stream south of the border.


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Theresa May doesn’t want to do debates because of Tim Farron – Paul Staines

Every so often, the right wing talk shows come up with something a liberal wants to hear.

“Sharp, witty, self-deprecating, a pleasure to interview, a polished media performer.” Who said this about our Tim?

None other than Julia Hartley-Brewer on Talk Radio, chatting to Guido Fawkes’ owner Paul Staines about the lack of leaders’ debates in the forthcoming General Election. She even started to say that he was likeable but then apparently thought better of it.

Staines said that it wasn’t Corbyn May was bothered about, it was Tim Farron. Hartley-Brewer then came out with the compliments above.

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Five observations about last night’s debate

I actually enjoyed last night’s BBC Debate much more than I expected. Sure, I was livid that Nick Clegg had been excluded, but it was the price that had to be paid for David Cameron taking part in any debates at all. It was an interesting affair. There was no huge drama but it was mostly conducted in reasonable style. Nicola got her chance to bid for a coalition, Ed got the chance to rebuff her so honour was satisfied on that score. Conservative spin doctors trying to extrapolate post election chaos from that display just looked silly.

It told only half a story, though. Each of the four smaller party leaders outlined their own narrow (and in the case of Farage abhorrent) interests. The ideal coalition partner, who would govern for the whole country with fairness, responsibility and respect for civil liberties was not in the room. We have his pitch, though. I just wish the party would put the speech he made at the manifesto launch on Wednesday on You Tube. Particularly this bit:

At its heart is one word that is absolutely central to what Liberal Democrats believe: opportunity. No matter who you are, where you were born, what sexuality or religion you are or what colour your skin is, you should have the same opportunity to get on in life. We want to tear down the barriers that stop you from reaching your potential. We want to smash the glass ceilings that keep you from achieving what you want to achieve. Your talent and your hard work, not the circumstances of your birth, should decide what you can be.

Here are five quick observations from me about last night’s event.

Nigel Farage was a disgrace

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The two most talked about things from last night’s Scottish Leaders’ debate and two things the press got wrong about Willie Rennie

At Wimbledon, you generally, if you’re lucky and it hasn’t been raining, get a day between matches. This isn’t the case for Scotland’s political leaders. After a two hour marathon on STV in Edinburgh last night, Nicola Sturgeon, Jim Murphy, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie head to Aberdeen where they will face another hour of debate, joined by the Greens’ Patrick Harvie and UKIP’s David Coburn. The moderator will be BBC Scotland’s James Cook, who took a bit of a pasting from cybernats for daring to suggest that he’s had SNP sources tell him that a Tory Government would be the best option for their independence cause.

Last night’s debate took place in the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. The format was a bit weird. There was a 20 minute session at the start where the moderator, Bernard Ponsonby, had a chat with some people in the audience and then put some questions to the leaders. Then they each had a 10 minute session on their own, giving a statement and taking 8 minutes of audience questions. That dragged a bit, to be honest. Then there was a 45 minute Question Time style free for all. It wasn’t as relaxed and well-behaved as the one at Glasgow University last month, but there were a few noteworthy moments. The most talked about on social media was the man in the crowd wearing a false moustache. Who could it be?

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Paddy to broadcasters: Let Nick into third debate. He’ll debate Miliband if Cameron refuses

Paddy Ashdown has followed up his no-nonsense appearance on the Today programme, in which he said that if Cameron wouldn’t debate Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg would, with a letter to the Chair of the committee of the broadcasters who are organising the events.

He said that the debates were here to stay, that anyone with a record in government to defend should be present in all debates and that Nick should be in the third debate anyway, but should debate Miliband if Cameron doesn’t turn up.

If Cameron now takes part, he looks like he’s been dragged there. If he doesn’t he looks scared, but he doesn’t take the risk. Will it actually change people’s votes, though? Do people actually care? 

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Clegg: I’ll take Cameron’s place and defend government’s record if he’s too important to take part in the debates

Nick in suit on call cleggDavid Cameron has moved the goalposts on the leaders’ debates so many times that they are now not even on the pitch any more. They’re nestled somewhere in between the burger stand and the toilets. His final ultimatum is so obviously his get-out clause and it’s unsurprising that he’s done it because he wasn’t very good at it last time, frankly.

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Debates plan disadvantages the Liberal Democrats

Well, the new debates plan is even worse than the old one for the Liberal Democrats.

The original plan was that there would be a series of three debates involving Cameron and Miliband, Cameron, Clegg and Miliband and Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Farage.

This led to David Cameron showing more empathy to anything Green than he has had since he hugged that husky and refusing to take part if the Greens were excluded.

The new proposals create  the worst of all possible worlds for the Liberal Democrats:

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Should the SNP and Greens be included in leaders’ debates?

Welcome to another of our occasional series of posts where two writers offer an alternative view to one of the issues of the day. Today, it’s whether the SNP, Plaid and Greens should be invited to take part in leaders’  debates. 

Jonathan Waddell says there is a case for the Greens to be included on a UK basis but not the SNP and Plaid:

Earlier this week, Wings Over Scotland claimed that to exclude the SNP from UK-wide election debates would be to subjugate Scots to second-class citizens. Website owner and frequent contributor, Stuart Campbell, argued:

the only reason to bar them is that they’re Scottish. In other words, Scotland’s MPs are worth less than MPs from other parts of the UK, and therefore by extension Scottish votes are worth less than other people’s votes.

Speaking as a Scot who believes in giving a platform to a plurality of parties at any given election to encourage a representative debate of the issues and views affecting the country, surely the more obvious reason is that over 90% of the electorate can’t vote for them; or at least a question of electoral logistics rather than anti-Scottish sentiment?

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Playground, panto and poultry – a day in the life of a debate about a debate

I have to say I’m completely over this debate talk. I’m starting to think that we should just lock every party leader in the country in the Big Brother house after the current occupants have departed and leave them there till they start behaving like adults rather than 9 year olds in the playground.

We have Dave who doesn’t want to take on Nige who’s wooing his more prejudiced voters. And wasn’t he talking about “green crap” not so long ago. More opportunistic posturing than repenting sinner, though.

We have Nige who thinks he can come across as the man of the people and wipe the floor with everyone, except his stats are dodgy and his views based on misinformation and prejudice.

We have Ed who must know he’s more cut out for writing worthy books in a dusty attic than slugging it out in a tv studio where he’s going to look as uncomfortable as hell. He has something to fear from everyone. Nige and Nicola are after his vote, Dave can give him a pasting on the economy, Nick has done more for disadvantaged kids in 5 years than his party did in 13 and he knows his vote is vulnerable to the Greens on the left. He must be very grateful to Dave for giving him a get out of jail free card. All he needs to do is utter the magic words “let the Greens in” and Dave will have no choice but to find another excuse to avoid debating.

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Opinion: The proposed televised debate format does not help pluralism

So, there will be televised debates prior to the 2015 General Election. The question that beckons is what form they should take. ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC are all set to host the party leaders, each with a different composition. Channel 4 have invited Ed Miliband and David Cameron, the BBC have added Nick Clegg to the mix and the trio becomes four as Nigel Farage will attend the ITV debate.

The big controversy, of course, is ITV’s decision to invite UKIP to their debate, given they have only one MP. Personally, I absolutely support the move. As Liberal Democrats we support a pluralistic approach to politics that welcome many democratic voices. Furthermore, UKIP have been able to ride on a wave of press hype that been allowed to ferment exactly because they have been the outriders of traditional political debate.  By inviting them into the fold in televised debates we are able to call UKIP out on the flaws in their policy platform. We can paint ourselves as the antithesis of UKIP’s insular and nationalist philosophy and appeal to those voters that oppose this view. Ultimately, the inclusion of UKIP offers an opportunity to bring the party to account.

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