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BRIT Review

General Election TV Debates - Refusal to debate Ed Miliband is poor strategy from the PM

Thursday, March 05, 2015


As this is written, I can almost guarantee that the goal-posts will have moved again in terms of the number of debates, who's in them and when? But I'll press on regardless with the clear topic of the day.

The TV debates saga (is it worthy of 'gate' status yet - probably not) has seen more questions than the latest Lord Ashcroft poll: Should it be the Conservatives, Labour and Liberals like 2010? Should UKIP be included? Should everyone else be excluded? Should the nationalist parties be in or out? and the bizarre episode of the Prime Minister leaping to the defence of the Green Party (before Natalie Bennett was slated for that unfortunate radio interview), which many think was an attempt to create a political buffer between himself and Nigel Farage.  

The latest issue is the Prime Minister's ultimatum to broadcasters that he will not take part in a head-to-head with Labour Leader Ed Miliband, which strangely did not appear to be an issue when he was lobbying on behalf of the Greens a few weeks back. 

Now why is this the case? Many are saying that due to the struggling popularity of Mr Miliband it makes no sense for the PM to take him on in a debate where people could start to like him more. Also, never underestimate the British public's love of going for the underdog (remember 'I agree with Nick'?) and at times David Cameron's style towards the Leader of the Opposition is a bit too playground bully. The trouble is, the mishandling and dare I say political dithering from No.10 has made David Cameron look calculating and Ed Miliband more passionate and democratic.

It is a good day for democracy that (fingers crossed) a debate will take place with seven political parties, no doubt watched by millions. But a bad day that after the election it is 99.9% likely that either Mr Miliband or Mr Cameron will be Prime Minister and the public should have a chance, like they do in other countries, to see these two contenders debate, away from the bear-pit of a shouty PMQs, on serious issues like the economy, the NHS and jobs. 


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