2010 UK Election, Andy Hume, Bob Dalrymple, Colm Flynn, Ian Lising, Neill Harvey-Smith, Ray D'Cruz, View opinion pieces

Election Debates’ experts on the UK debate rules

We asked Election Debate experts for some brief observations about the 76-point plan for UK leader debates, agreed by parties and producers earlier this week. Read the 76-point programme format here.

Tommy Tonner:

This is a ridiculous format which tries badly to import a presidential style debate into a parliamentary system. Two main objections, the Scots, Welsh and Irish parties are excluded and the audience aren’t allowed to clap or heckle. God help them if they hold one of these in Glasgow.

Bob Dalrymple:

These debates are an important development that will increase public interest in the election at a time when turnout has been steadily decreasing for several years.  As this is a UK general election, it is reasonable to include only the three main UK party leaders, providing smaller UK parties and the various nationalist parties are given sufficient airtime to comment afterwards.

Neill Harvey-Smith:

At last the British people can watch wide-ranging debates between potential Prime Ministers. Traditional political interviews are journalist v. politician, with a heavy subtext that politicians are all the same. The format of these new debates will allow the leaders to draw distinctions between their parties, which will be crucial in the closest election for twenty years.

Colm Flynn:

It is reasonable to limit the debates to three parties as the objective of some smaller parties may be to win headlines not votes. However consideration should be given to holding separate debates for the smaller parties as happens in Ireland.  Given the presidential debate format for a parliamentary election it will be important to keep the emphasis on party policy not personality.

Ian Lising:

It is a sad day indeed when the British leadership chooses to saddle itself with the debate format that plagues the American electoral process. The “free-flowing” debate will surely slip into the reiteration of their respective all too familiar talking points. Clash must be the goal of any debate.

Ray D’Cruz:

The decision to exclude minor parties is undermined by identity of the decision makers: the major parties. Thumbs up for audience questioning and limited media questioning. Thumbs down for no direct questioning by leaders and one minute responses (which means assertions instead of arguments and evidence).


One thought on “Election Debates’ experts on the UK debate rules

  1. I agree with most of the comments made by our dear experts. There is still much area within the format that requires thorough reviewing. Having said so, I think that we ought to try out this format in university campaigns or elections first. Success is achieved when we are not afraid to make mistakes. They trick, is to make a few and to ensure that it impacts a context that is not necessarily very crucial.

    Posted by Muhammad Yunus | March 18, 2010, 3:13 am

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