Nick says yes to Sky's televised debate

by Stephen Tall on September 2, 2009

As LDV noted this morning Sky News has decided to lay down the gauntlet, and formally invite the major party leaders to particpate in a televised debate during the general election campaign. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has formally accepted his invitation, issuing the following statement on his website:

Many thanks for your letter of yesterday. It is great to hear that Sky News are taking this important initiative and I would be delighted to accept your invitation.

At a time when trust in politics is at an all-time low in the aftermath of the expenses scandal, we must find new and different ways to engage with voters. Any party leader who asks the British people for their vote should have the courage to come in front of a live audience and make their case. Anything else smacks of arrogance.

Thank you once again for writing. I look forward to the debate.”

David Cameron has also agreed to take part. All eyes and ears now are focused on Gordon Brown: will he take the risk, and agree to be the first UK Prime Minister to take part in such a debate; or will he take the bigger risk, and opt out?

Incidentally, I see The Times is speculating that veteran broadcaster Sir David Frost is tipped to get the gig of hosting the debate (if it materialises). A good choice? What do LDV readers think? Who would be your preferred host – perhaps Adam Boulton, the Sky political anchor who started this ball rolling; maybe Jeremy Paxman, or Andrew Neil; or perhaps there is an unwritten part of the constitution which dictates it should be a Dimbleby?

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9 comments

I vote for Eddie Mair

by Mark Reckons on September 2, 2009 at 11:53 pm. Reply #

Moira Stuart, Trevor McDonald, Rageh Omar. Do you think we could tempt Christiane Amanpour.

by Shilpa on September 3, 2009 at 1:10 am. Reply #

I’m very happy that Clegg has said yes.

As for interviewers, I’ve no real preference.. Except please, not Paxo!

by Liam on September 3, 2009 at 7:17 am. Reply #

[…] we brought you news that Nick Clegg has agreed to take part in Sky’s debate of party leaders. Jonathan Calder thinks this might not be the best of ideas: The arrangements under which the party […]

by Daily View 2×2: Thursday 3 September on September 3, 2009 at 8:01 am. Reply #

[…] « Nick says yes to Sky’s televised debate Daily View 2×2: Thursday 3 September […]

by Nick launches ‘Don’t Short Change Our Troops’ campaign on September 3, 2009 at 8:32 am. Reply #

Good on Nick, my only concern is that this sort of debate reduces our constituency-based FPTP system into even more of a personality-based election – as it is people are under the misapprehension that they are ‘voting for Brown/Cameron/Clegg, which unless they live in their constituencies they of course aren’t.

Still, a televised debate is a good thing, and as for interviewers – I hope it is Dimbleby and not Boulton – for me the latter just doesn’t have the gravitas…!

by Teek on September 3, 2009 at 1:19 pm. Reply #

It’s an awful idea.

It will only strengthen the perception of a “Presidential” system, where we’re not voting on issues, or principles, or even on past records – but on which of the party leaders we’d most like to have a drink with.

Pragmatically, I can see how reducing the election to a beauty contest will damage Brown. I just don’t think it’s worth the damage to our souls.

by Rob Stradling on September 3, 2009 at 2:10 pm. Reply #

Totally agree with Rob Stradling’s post. TV debates like this are all about personality and how good someone looks on telly. And, as noted, it strengthens the – wrong – idea that we have a presidential system.

The notion that one person can run government is flawed – yes Blair did it but that hardly counts as a recommendation!

by LiberalHammer on September 3, 2009 at 3:15 pm. Reply #

While we don’t have a Presidential system, the Prime Minister hasn’t been first among equals for a long time.

by Alex on September 14, 2009 at 12:09 am. Reply #

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