Stevie Martin | Staff Writer | Thursday, 5 March 2015

David Cameron Agrees To Only One TV Debate Ahead Of General Election. Other Leaders Call Him 'Chicken'.

The Debrief: Is the PM worried that Twitter will be mean to him or something? Because he has nothing *cough* to worry about *cough*

Unlike last during the last general election, when the TV debates between Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem are pretty much all anyone can remember about the run-up, this time round could see only one televised debate. As David Cameron has agreed to take part in only one - alongside the three aforementioned parties as well as The Green Party, UKIP, The SNP and Plaid Cymru - despite the broadcasters wanting more.

In the last few weeks, it's become pretty obvious that Dave really didn't want to partake in the debate, despite other leaders being up for it - Nick Clegg tweeted 'Stop holding them to ransom by trying to dictate the terms', and other leaders have accused the PM of 'acting like a chicken' and trying to 'bully' broadcasters. 

It's sort of fair enough, though, when you think about it: we should be picking our politicians based on their policies, rather than how good they are at speaking on TV - but on the other hand, if politics is going to be made more accessible to more people, then this is currently the only option.

It's a more Americanized way of doing things, yes, and it's also a simpler way for the general public to form opinion; hearing about policy on a panel-style debate show is more likely to sink in than reading it in some longwinded political thinkpiece in a broadsheet, for many. 

And if Cameron has an issue with televised public speaking, then what the hell is he doing as Prime Minister? A huge part of the job is persuasion and likeability - so it's not a great sign when the person most likely to win a majority, according to pollsters, can't go on TV and win a debate. 

'This is an outrageous attempt from the prime minister to bully the broadcasters into dropping their proposals for a head-to-head debate between David Cameron and Ed Miliband,' said Labour's Douglas Alexander, with a Lib Dem spokesperson adding: 'The Tories clearly do not want to discuss and debate the merits of their manifesto with the British public. David Cameron and the Conservatives should stop thinking they can hold these debates to ransom.' 

It hasn't yet been confirmed, however, this is just what David Cameron and the Torys have requested. The broadcasters set to host the three debates - BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 - all released a joint statement in response that read: 'The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky have received an email from the prime minister's office with a proposal. The broadcasters are committed to providing our audiences with election debates. Twenty two million people watched the debates in 2010 and we believe the debates helped people to engage with the election. The broadcasters have set out their proposals and continue to talk to all the relevant parties on an equitable basis. We will respond to the Conservatives' proposal in due course.'

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Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM




Tags: Pure Politics, David Cameron, General Election 2015