Tag Archives: leaders tv debate

The first televised leaders’ debate – join us for the live-chat tonight!

After all the anticipation, tonight sees the first of the live televised leaders debates, from 8.30 pm on ITV1. We suspect this may just attract some interest among LDV readers, and so we’ve teamed up with Mark Thompson of the award-winning Mark Reckons blog to co-host a live-chat for the three debates.

Join us here from 8.30 pm (or a little earlier if the excitement escalates to fever-pitch sooner) …

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Here comes the debate worm

I’ve written previously about my expectation that we’d see a worm grace the stage during the televised party leader debates. However, whilst I speculated about the worm being in Channel 4’s charge, looking to a traditional TV broadcast was just too old school of me. In fact, there will be a worm – but it’s a Facebook worm. As their news release explains:

With Britain’s first ever prime ministerial debate taking place on Thursday, Facebook’s 23 million UK users are being invited to participate in a mass “dial test” which will enable them rate the debates in real time and

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Opinion: Debates – the first two questions count most

Amongst the plethora of writing on the 2008 US Election, I came across this observation:

“After every debate the media narrative was determined by the first two questions and answers.”

(J. Heilemann & M. Halperin, “Race of A Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House”, Penguin Viking).

I decided to see if that hypothesis holds true for the recent Chancellors’ Debate as a clue as to whether it will apply to our forthcoming Party Leaders’ Debates.

The first question, asked by a trainee solicitor, in the Chancellors’ Debate was,

“This is a job interview; what personal qualities do you have that make you better

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TV debates: some clues to likely political impact

The latest ICM poll for The Guardian gives some pointers:

  • Very high viewing figures: 29% say they will watch all three and a further 31% say they will watch one or two
  • Even higher viewing figures amongst older people (and older people are more likely to vote): 23% of 18-24 say they will watch all three, but this rises to 40% of the 65+
  • Women are less likey to watch the debates (important as Lib Dem swing voters are usually disproportionately female): 42% say they will watch none compared to 35% of men

The last point may be influenced by childcare responsibilities as …

Posted in General Election and Polls | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Televised Prime Ministerial debates: how to ask a question

From the joint BBC / ITV / Sky news release:

All three debates will be broadcast in mid-evening slots in front of a studio audience selected by ICM. Members of the audience will be able to put questions to Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg directly. Viewers are also able to submit their own questions in advance by email via the addresses below.

Each of the programmes has a pre-determined theme for half of its airtime, with the remaining time open to questions on any election issue.

The First Election Debate will be broadcast on ITV1 on Thursday 15th April …

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Coming soon … the BBC’s nine Cabinet Contenders’ debates

In case the 4.5 hours of Prime Ministerial debates featuring Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown and David Cameron were not enough to sate the appetite of even the most politically-obsessed television viewer, the BBC has revealed plans to broadcast nine Cabinet Contender debates. Digital Spy reports:

… the nine Cabinet Contender debates will see Labour ministers, their Shadow rivals and Liberal Democrat counterparts discussing the key issues ahead of the general election. … The Daily Politics host Andrew Neil will front the Cabinet Contender debates on BBC Two in the two weeks before the election date, which is still to be

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TV leaders debates: what do the rules signify?

Despite some alarms along the way, the rules are now set for the first-ever head-to-head general election debates in the UK a mere 46 years after the first suggestion.

(And no, yawn yawn, it isn’t only in the US that such debates take place: the US wasn’t first and the US isn’t a particularly good place to look for lessons, what with not being a Parliamentary democracy unlike many of the other countries which also have TV debates.)

Now the rules are set, what do they tell us about how the debates may play out?

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Rules agreed for leaders’ TV debates – and Clegg to open the batting

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is to speak first in the first debate, hosted by ITV, while Gordon Brown and David Cameron will do so in the subsequent debates, on Sky and the BBC.

From the BBC:

Three major broadcasters – the BBC, ITV and Sky – have agreed on the rules for hosting party leaders’ debates in the run-up to the general election.

The three 90-minute sessions will begin by focusing on domestic policies, international affairs and the economy.

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Poll ups pressure on Cameron over TV debates

I pointed out before that the key to getting a boost in support out of TV leader debates isn’t so much winning the debate as beating expectations: if people expected you to do dreadfully and you come out doing ok that’s almost always a boost to a campaign, whilst being seen as doing ok when the expectations were that you would walk it means you lose support.

So the pressure really is on David Cameron as he’s the one going in to the debates with highest expectations on him according to the latest MORI opinion poll:

Which leader do you

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Conservatives rope in Squier, Knapp, Dunn Communications

Iain Martin’s general election commentary for the Wall Street Journal is rapidly become a must-read for me due to his record of unearthing useful bits of extra information that shed an extra light on the big political stories.

This week he had a good piece on the Conservative Party’s preparation for televised party leader debates during the general election:

Advisers close to U.S. President Barack Obama have been drafted by David Cameron to help the Conservatives in their election campaign against Gordon Brown and Labour.

The Tories have signed a contract with Squier, Knapp, Dunn Communications—a Washington-based Democrat-leaning political consultancy— to help

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Why Gordon Brown will start the TV election debates with an advantage over David Cameron

The political impact of TV debates in other Parliamentary democracies (and yes, yawn yawn, obligatory American reference, in the US too) has often been more about expectations than about absolute performance. Beat expectations and you benefit from the debate, even if that means people viewed you as the narrow loser. But if you were expected to be a big loser and then beat expectations and only just lose, you benefit.

Also the impact of debates has often been to reinforce people’s existing predilections rather than switch people between different parties or candidates. That has, for example, been a common feature in Canada, where TV debates have been held off and on since 1968. (Yawn yawn, US example, 1988 second Dukakis-Bush debate and others.)

In other words, you’re best placed to come out well from a debate if your party is the one most in need of motivating its supporters and if the expectations about your performance are low. Step forward then, Gordon Brown.

As for Nick Clegg?

Both of Brown’s advantages are advantages over David Cameron – and only over David Cameron. Liberal Democrat share of the vote is fairly static overall as turnout changes: from purely partisan motives, the level of turnout does not really matter, though of course from the perspective of health democracy higher turnout is much to be preferred. The expectations one is trickier, but the expectations amongst many in the media that Nick Clegg will benefit hugely from being in the debates is based on simply him being there, so he won’t go in to them with the pressure of extremely high personal performance being expected by the media.

Moreover, for Nick Clegg there is that third factor: TV debates can raise the profile of leaders beyond the main two parties.

For Nick and the Liberal Democrats this is likely to be a major boost, because consistently the party does best when it is in the news (even if, during the post-Kennedy leadership contest several MPs did their level best to disprove that). As simple a move as asking people about their views of party leaders before asking them which party they’ll vote for raises the third party’s vote in opinion polls. That’s why for many years Gallup gave the party higher ratings that other pollsters.

Compared to that, appearing in a trio of TV debates alongside Brown and Cameron will be a massive boost for Nick Clegg and the party.

Whilst we wait to find out what the televised general election debates will bring, enjoy this moment from the 1988 Canadian debates. The 1988 election was a re-run contest between Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives, who had won a landslide in 1984, and the Liberals under John Turner, still leader despite leading his party crashing out of power in 1984. John Turner is the silver haired one:

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What we’ve been saying about the general election

With the general election looking to be heading towards a hung Parliament according to the latest prediction we’ve published from a group of academics, how are things looking for the Liberal Democrats?

We’ve published three previews of the election:

But regardless of what you think of the ability of Stephen and myself with the crystal ball, as Iain …

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If Gordon’s a “glum optimist” and Dave’s a “perky doom-monger”, can Nick be the “honest optimist”?

Here’s how The Economist’s Bagehot characterised the performances of Gordon Brown and David Cameron at their respective press conferences this week:

On Gordon Brown: “… was his usual funereal self (even if he did manage a decent joke about the date of the general election). I thought he looked exhausted. But what he had to say was relatively upbeat: the recession is over; the government has plans for the “job-rich prosperity” that is just around the corner and an expanded middle class.

On David Cameron: “… was his usual breezy self, cracking jokes, remembering journalists’ names, etc. But what …

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LDV readers say: Televised leaders’ debates will be great help to Lib Dems

A fortnight ago, LDV posed the question, What difference, if any, do you think the televised leaders’ debates will make to the Lib Dems’ standing in the polls? Here’s what you told us:

  • 60% (258 votes) – They will be a real help to the Liberal Democrats
  • 24% (105) – They will make only a marginal difference either way
  • 8% (34) – They will backfire for the Liberal Democrats
  • 8% (33) – They will be utterly irrelevant to how people vote
    Total Votes: 430 Poll ran: 26th December 2009 – 8th January 2010

So, a convincing majority of you – six …

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Daily View 2×2: 5 January 2010

With the thought that there are only 353 days to Christmas and considerably fewer until the General Election, we launch into today’s Daily View.

On this day in 1918, the Free Committee for a German Workers Peace, which would become the Nazi party, was founded. In 1941, the aviator Amy Johnson, disappeared over the Thames Estuary and was never found. And 28 years ago today, Peter Sutcliffe, a 35-year-old lorry driver from Bradford appeared in court, charged with 13 murders of women in West Yorkshire.

Happy birthday to the second most famous son of Abbots Langley, footballer, actor and current Celebrity Big Brother ‘inmate’ Vinnie Jones, who is 45 today and to former US Vice President Walter F. Mondale, who is 82.

2 Interesting Stories

With the thought that some of you may have already noticed other parties’ pronouncements in the news yesterday, here are two more slants on the coming election.

 We’re being outgunned by slick Tory machine, says Labour’s Andrew Slaughter

The Labour MP for Hammersnith believes that his chances of re-election are being hampered by a lack of funding compared to his Conservative opponent. Slaughter said;

“People should be concerned that money is being poured into seats like this and the consequences of that for democracy,”

Funny how Labour never saw this as a problem when they were the ones bringing in large donations?

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Ten predictions for the general election televised party leader debates

1. Military language will be the order of the day for debate pundits. Fighting to the finish, knock out blows and accounts of who is ahead on points: deploy your military phraseology at dawn.

2. 99% of pundits who have previously expressed support for a party will declare that party’s leader the real winner from each debate – even if the party and leader did not appear in the debate.

3. Each party participating in the debate will say beforehand that its leader is not going to easily best the other leaders – and will say afterwards that its leader did easily …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 15 Comments

Televised party leader debates: get your worms at the ready

The “worm” is an instant poll tracker which wriggles across people’s TV screens, showing the net negative or positive reaction of a small group of the public to what is happening on screen. Running a worm across a politician’s speech or a debate between politicians has become a not uncommon feature of political coverage across many democracies.

The worm has even occasionally surfaced in the UK – so will it surface again for our TV party leader debates at the general election? And will worms offer a chance for Channel 4 to repeat an Australian trick and put one over the other channels who have excluded it from the debates?

Known in the US as dial groups (because a group of people is each given a dial to twist towards positive or negative), worms have often been the cause of controversy there. Joe Klein in Politics Lost recounts how badly they got the 2000 Bush-Gore debates wrong:

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NEW POLL: will the TV debates make any difference to the Lib Dems?

We now know the UK will see its first ever televised debates between the leaders of the three major UK-wide parties in the run-up to the 2010 general election. The consenus is there have been two winners: Sky News, which, with brilliant audacity, put the issue front and centre, and by so doing ensured that (i) the debates will happen, and (ii) it muscled in on the act, instead of being excluded by the BBC and ITV. (There’s a lesson there for Channel 4, which had been comprehensively outmanoeuvred).

The second winner, according to the commentariat, is Nick Clegg. Here’s Andrew …

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Is Danny Finkelstein right about televised party leader debates?

Over at The Times, Danny Finkelstein has cast doubt on the possible impact of the televised party leader debates at our next general election:

By the time of the campaign proper they are probably too late. We should be having these debates now if we want them to be influential.

In his piece, Danny draws on the evidence from the US (only – not from other Parliamentary democracies with TV debates, tsk tsk). However, there is some very relevant evidence from the UK. It’s from the polling carried out by The Times’s own pollster, Populus, at the time of the …

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TV debate between party leaders: it’s only taken 46 years

The first proposals for a TV debate between party leaders were made for the 1964 general election. For all the talk of the power of the media, it will have taken 46 years for them to get their wish. It’s a credit to Sky that after so many years they finally were the broadcaster willing to call the bluff of party leaders and be willing to empty chair any who didn’t turn up – hence forcing the current agreement. The media certainly do have wider responsibilities than their own immediate self-interest, but it’s quite remarkable that for 46 years they’ve …

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Televised election leaders’ debates are on

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Daily View 2×2: 17 December 2009

Good morning, and welcome to Daily View. Today we’re wishing happy birthday to children’s author Jacqueline Wilson and commemorating the death of Dorothy L Sayers.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

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Haggis, Neeps and Liberalism #9

Who does Alex Salmond think he is?

With all three main party leaders having now agreed to participate in televised debates in the run-up to the next general election, Scotland’s Opportunist-in-Chief is threatening to throw his toys out of the pram
unless he’s included in any debate shown north of the border.

But Salmond is indulging in pure gesture politics once again. As my colleague Stephen Glenn has pointed out before, Salmond has no right to expect to take part in a leaders’ debate when he won’t even be a candidate at the next Westminster election.

He leads the fifth biggest party at Westminster (behind the Democratic Unionists) and will be fielding candidates in less than 10 per cent of constituencies UK-wide.

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Also tagged , , , , and | 8 Comments

The leaders’ debate – is it really now game on?

Fair play to Sky News. It’s a month since the broadcaster upped the ante on a leaders’ debate, with Adam Boulton launching a full-throated campaign – including writing for LDV – for Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown and David Cameron to debate each other in the lead-up to general election day.

The result? The AP tells us a deal has now been reached between the broadcasters:

Broadcasters have written to Britain’s main political parties proposing a series of televised debates before the general election. The BBC, Sky News television, and ITV have written to the leaders of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties with a joint proposal for three live televised debates before the election, which must be called by the middle of next year.

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Rumours suggest Brown will accept debates, but seek to exclude Clegg

The BBC reports that Gordon Brown will accept the proposals, forcibly proposed by Sky’s Adam Boulton, for a leaders’ debate… but with only partial involvement for Nick Clegg:

Months ago, Conservative leader Mr Cameron called for a TV election debate to be held involving Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg as well.

Sources suggest Mr Brown would rather go “head to head” with the Tory leader and is prepared to take part in a series of debates – some involving Mr Clegg and others not – in order to allow this to happen.

This seems to be yet another gaffe by Brown. …

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Adam Boulton writes… Lib Dems should back a Leaders’ Debate

Two weeks ago Sky News’s political editor Adam Boulton launched a campaign to to get the leaders of Britain’s three main political parties to take part in a televised debate at the general election. Lib Dem Voice asked Adam to pitch his arguments in favour to our readers, and he gamely said yes…

Liberal Democrats know what it feels like. You’ve got a brilliant idea, it’s so obvious it just has to be right. But your competitors make patronising noises about your initiative, while trying to work how they can nick it for themselves.

That’s how I feel about Leaders’ Debates at the next General Election. Of course they should happen. Television is still the major mass medium of communication at a time when more and more people feel alienated from politicians – how could our political leaders possibly deny the public the chance to compare them face to face at election time?

Posted in General Election, Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged | 17 Comments

Daily View 2×2: Thursday 3 September

Good morning, on this fine morning – Charlie Sheen’s birthday, and one of Nottingham Lib Dem’s “delivery days.” Here’s hoping for no rain for me and for Charlie.

Top stories

Unbeknownst to the rest of us, the Tories have carried out a coup:

Tories claim: we have seized control of Scotland Yard

The Conservatives have wrested control of Scotland Yard from the Home Office and now have its top officers working to their agenda, a senior aide to the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has told the Guardian.

Kit Malthouse, the deputy mayor for policing, has declared that he and Johnson “have our

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Nick says yes to Sky’s televised debate

As LDV noted this morning Sky News has decided to lay down the gauntlet, and formally invite the major party leaders to particpate in a televised debate during the general election campaign. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has formally accepted his invitation, issuing the following statement on his website:

Many thanks for your letter of yesterday. It is great to hear that Sky News are taking this important initiative and I would be delighted to accept your invitation.

At a time when trust in politics is at an all-time low in the aftermath of the expenses scandal, we must

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TV leaders debate set to happen: if Sky keeps its nerve

I’ve always wondered why the media don’t call the bluff of party leaders when it comes to holding leaders debate at general election time.

Many in the media regularly and sincerely go on the record about believing such debates would be good for democracy, but in the past they’ve always held back from the idea that a debate could go ahead without all the relevant party leaders first agreeing.

That’s a view that has puzzled me because – particularly since the law was changed a few years ago – there are pretty strong legal grounds for being able to hold a debate, …

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