Wednesday, 15 October 2014

TV debates

In spite of the fact that Nick Clegg's great showing in the first televised party leader debates of 2010 helped me to an increase in the Liberal Democrat vote* in the Neath constituency, I am not a supporter of US presidential-style politics. This feeling that the Great Leader model of governance is obsolescent is one of the reasons for my attraction to the Liberal Party. All idols should be examined for feet of clay.

However, as Stephen Tall comments on Liberal Democrat Voice, another round of TV debates as part of the 2015 election campaign is inevitable. We should therefore seek to improve the model which the media companies have put before the political parties.

I agree with all his points, particularly about giving all parties which have at least a theoretical chance of forming a Westminster majority a voice in those debates. (Plaid Cymru fails on that score, but perhaps they can team up with the Greens, being the only two socialist parties with current MPs, to present a common front.)

However, I think it is also important to include and enhance the other debate, that between party spokesmen on key subject areas: finance, foreign affairs and social policy. The debate on financial affairs in 2010 went well, though it probably attracted fewer viewers than if it had gone out on BBC-1, ITV or Sky. TV companies naturally want a gladiatorial combat, but democracy would be better served by showing parties as other than one man bands.

* That is, the postal vote. Most of the postal ballots had been returned before the furious concerted media response to Nick's success, something for which the LibDem PR people had been unprepared. If they had been savvy enough to divert attention in the final week back from Nick to our other trump card, Vince Cable, who knows what might have been achieved?

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