The continued debate on the election debates

David Cameron, debates, General Election, Alex Veeneman, Kettle Mag
Written by Alex Veeneman

The order of the broadcast of the general election debates were announced last week. The debates, due to be held on the 2nd, the 16th and the 30th of April, would begin with ITV’s broadcast, featuring a debate with the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Scottish National Party, the Green Party and the Welsh party Plaid Cymru, which advocates for Welsh independence.

Two weeks later on the 16th, it would be the turn of the BBC, featuring a debate with the leaders of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party.

The debates would then conclude on the 30th, with a debate simulcast on Channel 4 and Sky, featuring the leaders of the Conservatives and Labour.

Television election debates

The order release came as a report from the Radio Times indicated that David Cameron and the Conservatives would only participate in a debate with the leaders Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Green Party that would be broadcast on YouTube, organised by a consortium led by Google, the Telegraph and The Guardian.

The report added that it had concerned the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, the broadcasters that would be airing the debates, and should that debate go ahead, Sky News and the BBC News Channel were expected to broadcast that debate. That debate is said to be scheduled for around the dissolution of Parliament at the end of March, but an official date has not been confirmed.

Reached by telephone, a spokesperson for the Conservatives said nothing official had been decided and that negotiations were still ongoing with the broadcasters. A spokesperson for the consortium did not respond to a request seeking comment on the report.

Moving ahead

In a statement, the broadcasters said the April debates would go ahead even if leaders decline to take part.

“We are proposing that the debates should happen within the campaign period at a time when the parties will be setting out policies in their manifestos and when the audience is fully engaged with the election,” read the statement. “The 2015 campaign will be nearly six weeks long and there is plenty of time for three debates to be held without overshadowing the rest of the campaign.”

Sky News did not respond to a request seeking comment on the broadcast of the YouTube debate. Spokespersons for the BBC and Channel 4 declined to comment.

A spokesperson for ITV, reached by email, said the broadcasters were committed to the debates.

“The broadcasters remain committed to providing election debates in the run up to the General Election,” the spokesperson said. “The debates played an important role in informing millions of our viewers in 2010 and we will continue to work with all the parties to ensure that they happen again in 2015.”

While the dates of the televised debates are set in stone, the outlook of the debates is not, and the debate surrounding the debates of the General Election, due in a little over two months from now, is likely to appear a constant.

What will the final picture be? Stay tuned and find out.

What do you think of the debate on the debates? Are you planning to watch the debates? Have your say in the comments section below.