Monday, December 21, 2009

Party leaders to debate on television: Bad for the Lib Dems?

Back in September I posted some reasons why I was less than enthusiastic about the prospect of televised debates between the party leaders at the next general election.

News has come today that those debates are indeed to take place: I see no reason to change what I wrote then, though "We should not assume that televised debates will be good for the Liberal Democrats" would be a more accurate, but less arresting, headline.

Considering the question in less partisan terms than I did in September, it strikes me that these debates will accelerate the trend towards a more presidential system here in Britain. For that reason, I do not welcome the development.

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6 comments:

momentsofc said...

I share your concerns in some ways; not so much about Presidentialism (id quite like to see the back of the monarchy) but the general trend to Americanisation is indeed a little disturbing....

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

People constantly talk about leader debates as though they're just an American concept from a Presidential system. But are countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Poland, Spain or Sweden (all parliamentary democracies) any more "presidential" because they regularly have leader debates in their elections? The Swedes have had these sorts of debates (first on radio) since the 1930s!

Dimoto said...

I share your concern, but mainly because it will lead to even more trivialisation - most journos are already comparing the debates to X-factor and Strictly Come Dancing.
The (manipulated) press will decide who wins the debates, NOT vox populi. I bet Alastair Campbell is already briefing journos how they should spin the debates.

Jason O'Mahony said...

In Ireland, where we have had debates between the two candidates for Taoiseach, they have tended to be damp squibs, save for the last one, where the leader of the opposition performed so shockingly badly he almost certainly helped his party lose. They do tend to reveal whether there is any intellectual substance to a leader, whether they are in control of their brief, and like PMQs, spoofers can be found out quite quickly. It's vital that the person chairing the debate doesn't take nonsense from the candidates, though, and doesn't accept pre-baked answers.

Frank H Little said...

Quite agree. One more nail in the coffin of representative democracy.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

I think that argument was lost when Peel issued the Tamworth Manifesto to the nation.