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The political X Factor

Nick Robinson | 17:00 UK time, Monday, 21 December 2009

Who needs Simon Cowell? The creator of the X Factor was offering to enliven the next election with a political version of his talent show.

Now, though, the British electorate will get what it deserved - proper televised debates between the leaders of the UK's three biggest parties. The judging will not be by Cheryl Cole. The voting will not be by phone or text. The electorate as a whole will decide by casting votes in the ballot box.

Simply by taking place at all these debates will make history - helping to determine who occupies Number 10 and what policies they pursue.

The cynics will say that Gordon Brown had no choice but to agree, given how far behind he is in the polls. However, other prime ministers did just that - refusing to take the risk or, in John Major's case, agreeing so late as to be impossible.

The prime minister will now hope to demonstrate that whether or not he's loveable, he is the man with the substance and experience needed to carry on doing the job. His negotiating team demanded that the debates be themed by subject and continues to argue that they should be moved around the country rather than all staged in London.

David Cameron will believe that, head-to-head, he can demonstrate that it is time for a change not just from Brown the man - but from the whole New Labour era. His team resisted Labour's initial push for a long series of head-to-head debates involving two leaders at a time.

Nick Clegg will scarcely be able to believe his luck as the first leader of the third party to share top billing with his big two rivals. His team saw any debates as an unprecedented opportunity to invite the country to say "a plague on both your houses".

Tonight, and in the lead-up to these debates, clips will be played and memories trawled for those TV moments that changed the course of events - the moment Nixon looked shifty or Reagan joked that he wouldn't exploit his opponent's age. Of course, for every one of those, there were times when debates were pedestrian, over-rehearsed or, even, dull.

Who cares? This isn't showbusiness. It's democracy, and at long long last the British electorate is to enjoy what voters in countries all over the world take for granted - the chance to see and hear and judge those who would lead them and then to vote.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Excellent news. Actually putting some depth on the leaders of the political parties we might be voting for could snap a larger section of the electorate out of its apathy. A jolly good policy fight live on TV will be good for voters, good for votes and good for democracy. Bring it on.

  • Comment number 2.

    After your recent article regarding a poll which showed Labour supposingly closing the gap on the Conservatives, I would have thought to show balance you would now have written an article discussing that the same polling organisation now shows the Conservatives having increased their lead over Labour too 17 points.



  • Comment number 3.

    The Tories are an irrelevance in Scotland, the Lib Dems unsure what they believe in anymore, and as for Nu Lab I don't think I have to elaborate on their public perception not only in Scotland but across the UK.

    In the UK we don't elect Prime Ministers directly, we elect constituency MP's that represent a particular party. That being said this is nothing more than three extended PPBs for the three 'main' UK parties (substitute England for UK as they are not the three main parties outwith this country).

    The political landscape in both Scotland and Wales is not reflected by these debates. As such they should not be aired in either country at all, with possible seperate debates in both countries including Plaid and the SNP respectively.

    To exclude the largest party in Scotland that forms the minority government at Holyrood from televised debates broadcast in Scotland is not only illogical but tantamount to electioneering.

    I await the legal challenges from either or both of these parties, I think it will be difficult for the broadcasters to show that they are not favouring unionist parties over independence parties with the format proposed and therefore possibly influencing the election results in both countries.

    The establishment rolls on and ignores the indpendence movements like they don't exist, sadly mistaken nonetheless.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well it will make a change from the plethora of amateur 'wannabes' we've had to endure lately!!

    Not so sure about the 'selected' audience though. I suspect the phrase should read 'specially selected'. i.e. No unexpected questions.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Nick! Remember us? Welcome back :)

    I think the live debates will be an excellent forum for more people to see for themselves those who seek to represent us, and in that sense, if it helps inspire more of an interest in politics overall, even slightly, then this can only be a good thing.

    I think most of the fears about the debates being mainly style over substance are unfounded, or at least they will be initially until the spin doctors master the art of pulling the wool over our collective eyes in a new arena.

  • Comment number 6.

    ScotInNotts: At the last general election in 2005, while Labour had 356 Conservatives had 198 and Lib Dem had 62, the next highest was DUP, with 9 seats, and the SNP had only 6 seats, Sinn Fein had 5 and Plaid Cymru had 3, with a few other parties having one seat each. I would argue that firstly, it seems you should be more worried about Northern Ireland feeling involved than Scotland and Wales, and secondly, that Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem are clearly the only non-minority parties.

  • Comment number 7.

    Speaking of TV electoral theatre.....somebody told me that a number of constituencies are planning to save money by counting the votes the day after the election this time around. That will put a crimp on my election night party. Is it true?
    Cheers
    Martin

  • Comment number 8.

    #6 perspicuously

    First of all, NI politics bears no resemblance to the political parties of the UK mainland and therefore if they wished to have televised debates in NI none of the 'main' parties would be included.

    Secondly, there has been national and European elections since the last general elections in both Wales and Scotland, perhaps you would care to select stats from those that show the current nature of the political landscape in these countries.

    From recent polls the SNP look to be on course to possibly double there seats tally at the last GE.

    As I said, the three 'main' parties are only so in England, and the English electorate should be allowed to view such debates if they so wish. However, in the interests of impartiality and considering the political reality in both Wales and Scotland these debates showed not be aired in either country unless the main parties in each country are represented.

  • Comment number 9.

    I am tired of all this egotism. These people might consider themselves political leaders but to me they seem like followers.

    I think the people of this country want to see the back of Labour and will default to the Conservatives for want of anything better. How this will effect the Liberals remains to be seen but whenever previously politics had this sort of arrangement to it the Liberals always did badly. I also feel there will be a quite vicious backlash against the better expensed MPs which might produce some local surprises.

    I just can't see how these so-called debates can be anything more than an unnecessary polishing of the unwanted and irrelevant. This is not democracy: it is a sham to fit a country which has become a shambles due to the most incompetent government since Lord North lost the American colonies.

    There will only be one question at the next election: do you trust Brown? I am sorry Nick but you won't like the answer. It is not that Labour will lose but how badly will Labour lose.

  • Comment number 10.

    Democracy! This is more entrenchment of a two party dictatorship being propogated by a publicly funded media.

  • Comment number 11.

    Quite aside from the fairness/unfairness angle referable to Scotland, it is a matter of broadcasting law that in Scotland the SNP are a "Major Party" and as such have to receive equal treatment during an election campaign. It's not a matter of opinion - it's a matter of fact.

    If the SNP don't consent, these debates will not be permitted to be shown in Scotland.

  • Comment number 12.

    Strictly speaking "British" doesn't cover Northern Ireland, which is a good job given that these debates will be irrelevant to politics there. Since these 3-way debates also can't possibly be shown in Scotland or Wales without breaking electoral law and every guideline going on impartiality, that means that these debates will be an England-only affair - not quite the same thing as being for the whole of the UK!

  • Comment number 13.

    Apart from the novelty with respect to the participants I am not sure that this will make good viewing. Surely we have seen enough of each of them to work out their leadership credentials.

  • Comment number 14.

    All this does is sustain the gap between the people and the elites, in fact, it widens it further psychologically. Yay to passivity, yay I can sit on my couch and watch these personalities duke it out. All you are competent to do is sit on your couch and watch. Yay to entrenching the position further of the main three parties and agenda-setting from the top, not the demos. Yay to further presidentialization of our politics. Say what you like of it, but it is not democratic. This is a terrible idea.

  • Comment number 15.

    Brown has such a limited rhetorical style, with the endless repetition of set phrases ("do-nothing Tories", "We are the party of the many, they are the party of the few" etc. etc.) accompanied by that strange spidery clutching hand movement, that I suspect many eager viewers will turn off after 20 minutes or so, suffering from severe ennui. Poor old Beeb, getting the last session, will have a viewing audience of 368 and some yawning dogs.

  • Comment number 16.

    The thought of having to sit through any one Debate let alone three where we may have to listen to various one-upmanship campaigns by Dumb, Dumber and Friend that will continue to fill Newspapers now right up until the next General Election.

    I wonder whom will be the Scrip - Writers for this 3 Part Saga of Non-events, and better still after more than 30 Years of wasted time by ALL former British Governments, for really just whom is going to be taken in by anything that they will say about the future?

  • Comment number 17.

    Here is a real idea....

    I would like to see the parties answer (the same set of) questions in WRITING in less than 100 words. Letting these bull**** merchants loose in front of a TV camera is a waste of time for them and us.

    Brief factual answers to direct written questions - would be a better accompaniment to political decision making rather than sweaty, shaven/unshaven, better/worse make up - let us actually read their answers.

    And of course publish the answers ANONYMOUSLY - without telling us know who said what (let us know a week later) This way we could judge them by what they say rather than who they are, or represent!!!! GCSE / 11-plus for politicians!

    (Any attempt to identify their party in the written answer should not be permitted.)

  • Comment number 18.

    I wonder what odds the bookies will give that Brown will bottle it at the last moment and suddenly be "unwell" so that Mandy can step in to the fight. My bet is that this is what they intend to do because there is no way that Brown can be effective in that arena ! But then come to think of it he isnt effective anyway.

  • Comment number 19.

    Who is going to "select " the audience for these debates ? I hope not the same people who select the question time debate audience. Why is there a percieved requirement to include the Lib Dems in these debates, they are no more likely to be in a position to form a government than any other of the fringe parties, UKIP, Greens, SNP, Plaid,etc.? To go considerably off thread, could someone at the BBC explain why the death of a British soldier in Helmund yesterday merits only a mention on page 2 of ceefax, in "other news" on the website, and no mention at all on the national news at 6 o'clock, this is a disgraceful omission.

  • Comment number 20.

    I would like more information on the representation of the SNP in the televised debates by leaders of the UKs three main parties?

    As I understand it,the SNP has seven members at Westminster? and TV exposure of minor UK parties is proportionate to the number of MPs.

    At present the SNP is an important regional party with a small number of MPs in the Westminster parliament.This will probably increase in the General election.Constitutionally they are a minor Westminster party and this determines their TV exposure.

    If Mr.Salmond brought forward the referendum on independence this might give him more clout?

  • Comment number 21.

    Great can't wait, I bet Mr. Cameron is licking his lips. This should increase the Tory opinion poll lead to 25 points.

  • Comment number 22.

    So much for the idea of a United Kingdom. If we were united in a meaningful way, then this announcement would have included some indication of how the needs of countries other than England would be addressed. I'm confident that, as they're proposed above, it won't be legal to broadcast these debates in Scotland, because it would be blatantly unfair to the current party of government here. As others have noted, similar concerns may apply in other partner countries within the United Kingdom.

    I'm not against the principle of leader debates, but it's important to remember that we don't go to the polls to elect a Prime Minister; we go to elect local MPs. Many voters will, of course, be bearing in mind the Prime Minister that those MPs are likely to elect in their turn, but it's damaging to our particular system of democracy to attempt to ignore the geopolitical make-up of the UK.

  • Comment number 23.

    Dear Nick

    If this helps dispel the illusion that the British electorate votes for its Prime Minister, hurrah.

    Gordon Brown had a line on this in his 2009 Conference speech.

    Peter Kenyon
    http://petergkenyon.typepad.com/peterkenyon/2009/12/tv-debates-will-brown-repeat-you-are-voting-for-your-future-not-me.html

  • Comment number 24.

    Nick
    Please help . Where is the dodgy lord ? we have not heard from him for more than 2 weeks .Very unlike him!!
    is he sulking or on one of his rich friends'yacht?

  • Comment number 25.

    Televised debates are excellent ideas for the political leaders and hopefully their strengths and weaknesses will show so decisions can be made about their suitability for government. As a person who lives outside London, Gordon Brown's idea of debates outside of the capital is an excellent idea and perhaps it could be extended so that additional debates could be held in Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland with nationlist politicians on matters relating to their country.

  • Comment number 26.

    Gavin Greig

    " I'm not against the principle of leader debates, but it's important to remember that we don't go to the polls to elect a Prime Minister; we go to elect local MPs. Many voters will, of course, be bearing in mind the Prime Minister that those MPs are likely to elect in their turn, but it's damaging to our particular system of democracy to attempt to ignore the geopolitical make-up of the UK."

    The SNP are an important regional party of government,but are represented at Westminster by seven MPs.Surely this determines their access to TV time during general elections. It does not qualify them to take part in a UK leader debate.

    General election success followsed by a positive referendum result would transform the constitutional position of the SNP. To confine the leader`s debate to the main Westminster parties seems appropriate at the present time.Perhaps you have an alternative to put forward?

  • Comment number 27.

    Just completed a scan of the Tory leaning bloggs, and I can safely say their previous cockiness over the TV debates has waned. Seems Gordon has called their bluff, and they are now scrambling around trying to dig up a diversion story, namely "Mandy made Brown" concede to the debate. You would think Cameron and his front bench would be punching the air at the thought of the TV debate, but instead have retreated into self doubt. The only good news for Cameron is that the TV debates will take the electorates focus off the likes of Gideon, IDS, Hague and Redwood. Said characters could be running the country. Oh lord !!!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    21. At 7:44pm on 21 Dec 2009, uncannyparsnipboy wrote:
    "Great can't wait, I bet Mr. Cameron is licking his lips. This should increase the Tory opinion poll lead to 25 points."

    None of them are licking their lips.The presentation of the self on TV is particularly fraught however much you are groomed.Cameron could present as slight with no knowledge of economics,Brown as clumsy and lacking in empathy,Clegg as the debating prefect he always was.

    But it is the heat of the lights,the unexpected question,the sweaty palms and the existential risk which makes the debates worth while.It`s all to play for and public`s verdict is unknown.

  • Comment number 29.

    Most people don't realise that REAL democracy leads to more right wing opinions such as the death penalty coming back, and homophobic and racist votes etc. This is because although people don't like to admit it, the people in power are more empathic than the general populace!

    I used to believe in true democracy until I studied further.

    A good quite by Oscar Wilde was "Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people". I'd advise researching democracy further before believing the myth that it's perfect.

  • Comment number 30.

    I can safely say the Tories previous cockiness over the TV debates has waned. Seems Gordon has called their bluff, and they are now scrambling around trying to dig up a diversion story, namely "Mandy made Brown" concede to the debate. You would think Cameron and his front bench would be punching the air at the thought of the TV debate, but instead have retreated into self doubt. The only good news for Cameron is that the TV debates will take the electorates focus off the likes of Gideon, IDS, Hague and Redwood. Said characters could be running the country. Oh lord !!!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    kay @ 19

    "could someone at the BBC explain why the death of a British soldier in Helmund yesterday merits only a mention on page 2 of ceefax, in "other news" on the website, and no mention at all on the national news at 6 o'clock"

    The death of one British soldier in Helmund is not big news, I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 32.

    "This isn't showbusiness. It's democracy"

    surely This isn't democracy. It's showbusiness?

    I'm sorry if it was sarcasm and I'm stating the obvious. Its difficult to tell.

    Or maybe thanks to the premium phone number voting dross on television. Democracy has now become a branch of entertainment?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY3cpqCtnJU&feature=related

  • Comment number 33.

    18. At 7:30pm on 21 Dec 2009, RaytEssex wrote:
    "I wonder what odds the bookies will give that Brown will bottle it at the last moment and suddenly be "unwell" so that Mandy can step in to the fight. My bet is that this is what they intend to do because there is no way that Brown can be effective in that arena ! But then come to think of it he isnt effective anyway."

    Your view of Mr.Brown`s ineffectiveness is not shared by bankers.The head of Barclay`s said on Radio 4 today that the action
    of the British government in the banking crisis "Was heroic".And they didn`t take any government money.

    For the full interview go to BBC Iplayer,1 O/Clock news.



  • Comment number 34.

    I think it will be the most depressing spectacl ever. Whoever 'wins' the debate is irrelavant. The conclusion will be that none of them is up to the job. They turn me off politics as they are pathetic lightweights.

    After WWII there was talk of winning the peace. The same is true after this more than any other election since the war. The problem is that our political structures are peopled by those who have lost our faith in their ability and integrity. How Cameron wins the election is going to be more important than his actual victory. If he wins by mocking Labour, he will have taken the easy route and not added anything to his standing as the leader this country needs. His, will be a leadership, it will be hard to initially trust. If he puts forward sound policies and avoids the trap the media sets him of televising insults not his policies - in other words he demands to be listened to - then the country's future is much brighter.

    Clegg's performance is a difficult one. He needs to show strength and mistrust of both Cameron and Brown, whilst giving some indication that he could work with Cameron or (more remotely) with Brown.

    The polls tell us about voting intentions, but I am not convinced that anyone's figure are that secure. A lot of die hard Labour supporters feel really let down. A lot of present day Tory supporters are really anti-Brown voters and the LibDem support will harden being the only third party that could disrupt the LabTory duopoly (regardless of any of their policies)

  • Comment number 35.

    26. bryhers
    "The SNP are an important regional party of government,but are represented at Westminster by seven MPs.Surely this determines their access to TV time during general elections. It does not qualify them to take part in a UK leader debate."

    The Conservatives have the magnaminous number of ONE MP in Scotland so their air time should be restricted as such or do assume that the UK is England and we are all just little add ons to be appeased at your pleasure. By restricted the debate to who you think has relevance stinks of dictatorship and has nothing to to do with democracy.

  • Comment number 36.

    27. At 8:35pm on 21 Dec 2009, boohoousa wrote:
    Just completed a scan of the Tory leaning bloggs, and I can safely say their previous cockiness over the TV debates has waned. Seems Gordon has called their bluff, and they are now scrambling around trying to dig up a diversion story,.....

    *******************************

    Something Labour won't need to do. Gordon is quite capable of c*cking it up on his own!!

  • Comment number 37.

    I propose that Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and other world statesmen and women are invited to Scotland for the next UK general election and see what they make of the fairness of the process. Much the same as they do in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

    What is proposed today?

    The Scottish Government are to purposely excluded from televised debate related to elections in their own country. The proposer is the state owned broadcaster and a well known bastion of unionism.

    The BBC will milk the debate for all it is worth in their usual unrestrained manor. Much as they did when the british national party appeared on question time. The BBC spun the story to be the appearance rather than that party's policies.

    Imagine if a similar debate in Scotland excluded the Conservative party?

    My belief of English people is that they will see this as unacceptable and unfair from a democratic and plain decency perspective, I do not have the same opinion of british politicians, they have no morals.

    C McK

  • Comment number 38.

    33. At 8:49pm on 21 Dec 2009, bryhers wrote:
    18. At 7:30pm on 21 Dec 2009, RaytEssex wrote:
    "I wonder what odds the bookies will give that Brown will bottle it at the last moment and suddenly be "unwell" so that Mandy can step in to the fight. My bet is that this is what they intend to do because there is no way that Brown can be effective in that arena ! But then come to think of it he isnt effective anyway."

    Your view of Mr.Brown`s ineffectiveness is not shared by bankers.The head of Barclay`s said on Radio 4 today that the action of the British government in the banking crisis "Was heroic"........

    ***************************

    That should ensure he gets his full bonus then ! LOL

  • Comment number 39.

    Nick do you have any clue how politics works in this country? And in every country with a "free press" for that matter!

    The debates will be held, the judges will be the media, including yourself, who will say things like "Brown didn't enjoy himself" "Cameron was quick with his counters" etc In fact the same things you roll off after PMQ every week, in the US the President only rarely goes to the House, over here it happens at least weekly!

    I know allready what the debates will prove, simply that Brown is the least polished public speaker, thats it, nothing else. It's not like they'll tell the truth in these and lie everywhere else is it! And the media, well what they will say is entirely predictable too.

    Sky - Will talk about how good Cameron did now their boss supports the tories, IMO Sky shouldn't have got a debate, it's going to be a biased disgrace.

    Papers - Well the Mirror is the only Labour supporter left so they'll say somthing like "Brown shows he's a serious man for serious times" and rip on "Shallow Salesman Cameron" the others will plump mostly for the tories, with the Independant probably going for the Lib Dems

    BBC - Normally it'd be Lib Dem all the way for the beeb, but given the economy it's likely to be whoever won't cut the license fee!

    In short the result will be the same as in the US, where the Democrats always think their guy won, as do the Republicans. The same will happen here.

    Simon Cowells idea of (effectivly) the biggest "radio" phone in ever would at least be entertaining. These debates will be boring, less than 20% of the pop will watch them and most will vote based on what the media souce they read/watch says!

  • Comment number 40.

    xandrani @ 29

    Yes, that's an excellent point - it's why, for example, I hate the idea of government by referendum. You'd get all sorts of vulgar things getting sanctioned. The Swiss had a "people get their say" exercise the other week, did you see that? - they ended up going for a complete national ban on Muslimy looking buildings! Risible. But not funny. We need to be protected from ourselves to some extent, it's part of the function of good government. Too much "democracy" in the nasty, brutish sense of the word is dangerous. To be avoided if at all possible.

  • Comment number 41.

    If the format and manner of debate is going to be anything like PMQs, I don't think these broadcasts are gonna be on my 'Must Watch' list.

  • Comment number 42.

    #3. ScotInNotts
    #6. perspicuously
    #11. CassiusClaymore
    #20. bryhers
    #25. rapidviking
    #35. cynicalHighlander
    #37. Calum McKay

    When considering the TV debates the three important pieces of legislation and guidelines are the Communications Act 2003 ,the OFCOM and the BBC guidelines.

    The OFCOM guidelines define the SNP as major party in Scotland along with the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib-Dems. For any political program broadcast in Scotland unless they are all treated on an equal footing then it will be illegal under the guidelines.

    In the BBC guidelines, point 3, they acknowledge that they must take into account the different governmental and political situation in Scotland in their editorial decisions:
    To achieve this we must ensure that:
    3. they are aware of the different political structures in the four nations of the United Kingdom and that they are reflected in the election coverage of each nation. Programmes shown across the UK should also take this into account.
    (My bold)

    The SNP want do not want to be part of a UK broadcast or to stop the the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib-Dems from debating in England. What the SNP want is to be part of any party leaders debate broadcast in Scotland.

    The party leaders of the four major parties in Scotland are Brown, Cameron, Clegg and Salmond. Unless they all get on a TV debate together that debate will be illegal if broadcast in Scotland under the current guidelines.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    Where do you begin with Gordon Brown? One of your correspondents thinks he's popular with the banks. That's because he spent 10 or so years sucking up to them. There are a mass of clips of him congratulating them on their cleverness etc. (If you have a look at Braclay's history you might also see that to be complimented by them isn't all it might seem.)
    Apart from all of the above I think the Damian McBride saga illustrates Gordon Brown's failings beautifully- it was underhand, vicious and perpetrated by one of his favourite henchmen. To set himself up as 'son of the manse', a serious man for serious times etc is now so shot through it's laughable.

  • Comment number 45.

    Political opponents of the SNP are tonight rounding on Alex Salmond, Scotland' First Minister, for using "Bully-boy" tactics.

    First Minister Salmond had the cheek to suggest that the Scottish Government's exclusion from the proposed debates was "Unacceptable to exclude the party that forms the government of Scotland".

    I believe we need an inquiry into why this proposal has gone so far without people within the bbc asking questions, e.g. did the proposal do damage to the democratic process in Scotland?

    The bbc is stuffed with labour supporters in Scotland; it would not surprise me if the proposal had its origins there.

    C McK

  • Comment number 46.

    What a coincidence, Gordon Brown is back and so is Nick Robinson. Therefore one can assume that more labour propoganda will soon follow. Should that be Nick McRobinson?
    Nick could you prepare the ground and tell us about Brown's 10p tax, labour millionaires,two wars, massive unemployment,massive debt,labour non-dom backers, labour cuts (Brown's investment), PBR lies, etc.
    Oh and finally Brown's great success at the Copenhagen climate conference, when Black again became White. By the way where did Brown disappear when the climate discussions went belly up. Up to that point he spent more time in front of the cameras than you do.

  • Comment number 47.

    While I applaud the fact that these debates have finally been agreed sadly the devil will be in the detail.

    I understand there will be many meetings before each debate which will guarentee that the debates will be pre-decided and somewhat scripted. They are bound to be not watched by as many as the X Factor final and even though the result is more important than the X Factor politicians are such a turn off it will probably become a damp squib and we will not learn an awful lot more!

    Please let the politicians set the agenda and the chairman/presenter have a minimum impact.

    What will we learn? Cameron is good on stage, Gordon Brown cannot breath and talk without dropping his jaw, Nick Clegg is a real person - that is what the majority will take out of the programme.

    These programmes will not dictate the election result sadly as local personality along with local issues will ultimately decide the result. We are not in the US as we vote for parties not for a PM.

    I hope I am pleasantly surprised but somehow I do not think I will be.

  • Comment number 48.

    This could polarise the whole political situation and give democracy a new depth of honesty and integrity.
    and Mr Nick (WMD) Robinson could learn a few things from this ace media star.

  • Comment number 49.

    43. Huncher
    "The Scots question - I am fed up with the Scots whinging - they have their own parliament with plenty of powers - we all subsidise them - what University fees etc,etc - you are already over represented in parliament - major players involved with the current UK financial problems(both political and commercial) are Scots if you hadn't noticed.

    I would have thought you might wish to keep a low profile.
    "

    Could you please explain your misguided assertions.

  • Comment number 50.

    It does seem extraordinary that the party of government in Scotland can be excluded from these debates. How is that fair? They are quite likely to be the most popular party (by % of vote) in these elections in Scotland.

    You can try as you like to find excuses but it's simply not fair and therefore undemocratic.

    It also puts the SNP in a very awkward position - having to take legal action to block Scottish people's access to these debates if they want to retain impartiality... which may go down badly in Scotland if people feel they're being denied the chance to see the big event.

    Altogether a very bad and unfair decision.

  • Comment number 51.

    All i hope for as someone who has a minimal knowledge of politics, is that all 3 leaders can give a clear idea of the plans/policies they have to help people decide where thier vote goes, as this next election is one of the most important ever with the financial mess we are in.

    I fear this could be too much to hope for however!!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    50. themightyshed
    "It does seem extraordinary that the party of government in Scotland can be excluded from these debates. How is that fair? They are quite likely to be the most popular party (by % of vote) in these elections in Scotland."

    And Plaid in Wales it just shows the total mess of democracy in the UK as the English don't have a voice either.

  • Comment number 53.

    I fear all the unhappy Scots on here need to get a grip:
    1 This is an election for the UK Government, not the Scottish Government, so the SNP is not a major party
    2 Whatever you think the law might say, why would you want to censor the viewing of people in Scotland? Even if you regard "English" elections as "foreign affairs coverage", you will be significantly affected by the result in Westminster. After all, we get wall-to-wall coverage of US elections on that basis. Why wouldn't you be interested?
    3 Even if you wanted to stop these debates being broadcast in Scotland, you seem to have forgotten the existence of the Internet and satellite TV. Anyone in Scotland who wants to see them will be able to see them. If you don't want to see them - switch off! Just like most people in England will.

  • Comment number 54.

    P.S. 4 Why should the 90% of the UK electorate who don't live in Scotland have to listen to Alec Salmond whining on about how badly the Scots are treated by Westminster? Or is the SNP planning to field candidates in English constituencies?

  • Comment number 55.

    35. At 9:00pm on 21 Dec 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:
    26. bryhers
    "The SNP are an important regional party of government,but are represented at Westminster by seven MPs.Surely this determines their access to TV time during general elections. It does not qualify them to take part in a UK leader debate."

    "The Conservatives have the magnaminous number of ONE MP in Scotland so their air time should be restricted as such or do assume that the UK is England and we are all just little add ons to be appeased at your pleasure. By restricted the debate to who you think has relevance stinks of dictatorship and has nothing to to do with democracy."

    While Westminster is still the parliament of the whole UK,it is the total number of seats that determines TV access not their regional distribution,as uneven as that may be.By your logic Mr.Salmond would be equally restricted because he has no MPs in England.

    The SNP is a regional party with a representation in the UK parliament,with an independent Scotland,Westminster rules no longer apply.

    Don`t attribute attitudes to me that are not mine,I am a great admirer of of the Scottish renaissance and of Robert Louis Stevenson.My view of Burns however is that he for local consumption.

  • Comment number 56.

    Saga

    "Too much "democracy" in the nasty, brutish sense of the word is dangerous. To be avoided if at all possible."

    Your comment reminds me of Ghandi who was asked what he thought of European civilization? He replied I think it would be a very good thing.

  • Comment number 57.

    20. At 7:38pm on 21 Dec 2009, bryhers wrote:
    I would like more information on the representation of the SNP in the televised debates by leaders of the UKs three main parties?

    As I understand it,the SNP has seven members at Westminster? and TV exposure of minor UK parties is proportionate to the number of MPs.

    At present the SNP is an important regional party


    The SNP are a major party in both Scotland and the UK - there is no argument there - Scotland is not and never has been a region.

    You appear to saying that the SNP are not proportionally significant due to a smaller representation at Westminster and as such deserve to be excluded from these debates.

    By that logic then Scotland herself need be excluded from the debates having less than 9% of the UK's population.

    In other words, only parties from the largest constituent part of the UK should be represented in these debates - the Tories are an endangered species in Scotland.

    So, Scotland will watch as David Cameron and Nick Clegg, two party leaders whose parties have nowhere near the support of the SNP in Scotland will debate with Gordon Brown whose party at the two most recent elections and the last official Scottish poll was also behind the SNP.

    As an aside;
    The BBC have recently been forced to issue an apology to a senior SNP minister after one of their reporters (a former Labour politician) attributed views to the Minister that he did not express. The broadcast happened in the midst of the recent Glasgow North East by-election.

    To date in Scotland not one mainstream news outlet has published this story - the BBC refused to broadcast the apology.

    The British Broadcasting Corporation?

    Don't make me laugh.

  • Comment number 58.

    Well, if this is the political X Factor, what is the political equivalent of Rage Against The Machine?

    19#

    Damn, you beat me to it. You're right to say that if its the same chumps who select the QT audience, including the anti-Griffin "angry villagers" then not only are the candidates not going to get a reprasentative feel for what the nation really thinks, but also is potentially open to abuse to the broadcasters own agenda... For instance, I'm sure the Sky one will be significantly less friendly to Brown, like the BBC will be to Cameron; ITV on the other hand... probably going to be a dumbed down irrelevance.

    On QT every week, panellists get away with giving the same typical political non-answers. Gollum is a master of this art and this should be the opportunity the public have to say to all of the candidates, give a straight answer to a straight question.

    Nice to see you're back Nick. Shame that both you and the PM decided to go missing at a time when everything back here was going to rats, not to mention defence issues, nothing about the debacle that Copenhagen was (as against Gordons "50 days to save the world"), the country grinding to a halt thanks to snow - good to see that you're fulfilling your breif as capably as ever.

    Your finger seems to be as firmly on the pulse of the political elite as it has been for the last 2 years.

  • Comment number 59.

    Z 38

    What cynicism!

  • Comment number 60.

    40#

    "You'd get all sorts of vulgar things getting sanctioned."

    Must.... resist... temptation....

    "The Swiss had a "people get their say" exercise the other week, did you see that? - they ended up going for a complete national ban on Muslimy looking buildings!"

    Not completely strictly true. The ban that was voted for was against the construction of any more minarets. Not every Mosque has minarets, either in this country or others, including Muslim nations. The main purpose of the minarets is for the muezzin to call the faithful to prayer, if I recall correctly. It was approved by 57%. Not all over by any stretch of the imagination though, appeals are pending.

    "Risible. But not funny. We need to be protected from ourselves to some extent, it's part of the function of good government. Too much "democracy" in the nasty, brutish sense of the word is dangerous. To be avoided if at all possible."

    Roughly translates as "Nanny Knows Best", I would venture. Dont think, we'll do it for you.

    I'd argue we need as much protection from this rampant bunch of egotistical nepotistic narks as we do from ourselves.

  • Comment number 61.

    Online Ed
    "So, Scotland will watch as David Cameron and Nick Clegg, two party leaders whose parties have nowhere near the support of the SNP in Scotland will debate with Gordon Brown whose party at the two most recent elections and the last official Scottish poll was also behind the SNP."

    I understand separate debates will occur in Wales and Scotland between those who are not contending for the UK premiership.

    The SNP are certainly a major party in Scotland and therefore the UK,but not in the UK parliament which is the relevant criteria for TV access.

  • Comment number 62.

    Online Ed 57;

    While Scotland is part of the United Kingdom it is a geogaphical and political region of that entity as are England and Wales. With independence it becomes a region of Britain as it was before the act of union.

  • Comment number 63.

    59. At 10:31pm on 21 Dec 2009, bryhers wrote:
    Z 38

    What cynicism!

    ************************

    Is that a synonym of realism?

  • Comment number 64.

    44. At 9:38pm on 21 Dec 2009, bright-eyedwendym wrote:
    "Where do you begin with Gordon Brown? One of your correspondents thinks he's popular with the banks"

    I didn`t say he was popular with the banks.What I actually said was the head of Barclays said on Radio 4 that the actions of the government in the banking crisis "Was heroic".

    It is not an expression I would have used.I would have said the government kept their heads and applied tested Keynesian counter cyclical policies which appear to be working. In addition they co-ordinated international activity to that end.

    The difficulty I have with Mr.Cameron and Mr.Osborne is they appear ignorant of economics,they are reverting to what appears commonsense, but will be disastrous if they cut spending before the recovery is secure.It`s a matter of timing,not if but when. You may understand this better with the televised debates rather than the tabloids.




  • Comment number 65.

    CynicalHighlander

    Perhaps this comment won't be moderated, politically I was thinking about our esteemed leader,the chancellor and half the rest of the cabinet commercially HBOS RBS.
    I commend your countrymen on significantly out punching their weight numerically (if you read the boards it is much the same)but I fail to see what AS has got to say to the UK.Lobby BBC Scotland to hold their own "local thing"

  • Comment number 66.

    If the SNP fielded candidate South of the Border there could be a landslide win in the election then the Scots could have their own TV debate!

    Until then keep the Scots out of it!

  • Comment number 67.

    bryhers

    Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are partners in the United Kingdom. It's not reasonable to say that our diversity of political opinion should not have parity at a time of UK election simply because there are more people in England. We accept that after the election, differences in population size will be reasonably reflected in representation within Parliament; but during the election campaign, as a partner within the UK, our requirements for balance in the media are equal in importance to, but different from, England's.

    Including the SNP in the debate at the UK level need not mean the "main" parties get less of a say, though you would probably have to expand the total time allocated for debates. It might even inform the UK debate, by introducing fresh perspectives. However, because in Scotland we see the UK media, excluding the SNP at the UK level would certainly result in denying them an equal platform to the other parties within Scotland, where it matters to them. That's what's not fair.

  • Comment number 68.

    55. bryhers

    As you only believe in democracy that fits your thoughts and not on reality just to correct yourself Scotland is a nation and has only been demoted in Westminster eyes and just to correct yourself on Ghandi

    I think it would be a good idea. re a "Western" not European civilization

  • Comment number 69.

    65. Huncher
    "Perhaps this comment won't be moderated, politically I was thinking about our esteemed leader,the chancellor and half the rest of the cabinet commercially HBOS RBS."

    Our "esteemed leader etc" are Brits in their through an through, (checks the wind), re HBoS and RBS were global banks with Scottish names who had their headquarters in London where they payed all (£40 billion) taxes into the bottomless pit at the treasury. Osama bin Laden is Saudi Arabian has anyone bombed them and killed innocent civilians.

    "I commend your countrymen on significantly out punching their weight numerically (if you read the boards it is much the same)but I fail to see what AS has got to say to the UK.Lobby BBC Scotland to hold their own "local thing""

    That sums up the UK as it is a total anomally in how it is run, what suits one end of the country has no bearing on the other leaving most of its regions alienated from the priveleged few.

    ps Thanks tip if only England pushes for more devolved power then the UK can progress into a more democratic society seperate or not.

  • Comment number 70.

    I would prefer that they did NOT have televised debates. I would prefer that they didn't provide any pre-election promotion at all. Let's not have an election campaign: let them publish their manifestos and let us read them. I want detail: detailed policies, detailed estimates. They don't have to be 100% scrubbed, because the opposition parties don't have access to all the detail and the support from the ministries.

    But let's have the documents - about 500 pages each, I reckon. Let me read them in silence (the politicians and spin doctors can be in purdah for a month, and all political commentators can just shut up too). Nobody should be allowed to offer advice, analysis, interpretation, clarification, criticism. If you can't get the facts across to me by writing them down, you're no use.

    As for the electorate: you may ask how the less-intelligent or -educated are expected to cope with documents alone? Well, if they can't understand the written proposals, they are probably not going to discriminate when they get the "dummy's guide" party political slanging matches and commercials. They'll just vote what their parents voted. But those of us that might think about the issues and judge the people making proposals might be swayed by competence and a bit of lucid exposition.

  • Comment number 71.

    To some posters it would appear that even in the unlikely event that all of Wales voted Plaid, and all of Scotland voted SNP, this in terms of a 'UK wide' election would still not merit equal exposure in a GE in Wales or Scotland.

    This beggars belief, where is the democracy in such peoples train of thought, or would they rather that these countries not bother to express their democratic voice at all?

    Perhaps its time to accept the current political reality in each of the nations of the UK?

    Nick, from the report on the news at ten there now seems to be seperate debates for Scotland and Wales, why was this not mentioned in the original broadcast at six, or in your blurb at the start of this thread?

    Could it be that this is a hastily added proviso after taking a closer look at the Beebs obligations during a national election?

    If there are in fact seperate debates proposed then there should not be any problem.

    England can view the original proposed debates between Dave, Broon and Nick, whilst not being broadcast in Wales or Scotland. Meanwhile Wales and Scoltand can have their seperate debates to only be broadcast in those respective countries.

    A much fairer and democratic process that reflects the political reality in the nations of the UK, rather than those that intend to force a 'one size fits all' policy UK wide, when this is not the reality of the current political landscape.

    PS No matter what some may prefer, you cannot disenfranchise whole swathes of the population in Scotland and Wales through exclusion as was proposed. The electorate in both countries should be able to make an informed choice from the main parties in their respective countries.

    To those equating Scotland or Wales to the status of an English region, I sympathise that it may be difficult to reconcile that perception with the reality of the costituent nations within the UK at present.

  • Comment number 72.

    "His [brown's] negotiating team demanded that the debates be themed by subject and continues to argue that they should be moved around the country rather than all staged in London"

    of course they did... they want to use spin and be sure of answers before they set foot in a tv studio.
    why are sky getting a debate? they are the libdems of the tv world, just look what they did to the ashes cricket tests, even channel 4's highlight show got millions more viewers than them

    who is paying for brown's negotiating team? taxpayers again?

    all party leaders should be approachable by the general public, without exception.
    when was the last time we saw brown answering questions from a member of the public?
    stage managed groups of people who dare not speak out of turn or be controversial for fear of losing their job or bringing criticism on their immediate management if they dare raise their voices to him and pin him down for a straight answer.

    i think what would be better would be a cross party audience as used in question time, and each leader faces an hour of questioning and opinion from the public, totally unscripted.... instead of the stage managed pre prepared nonsense these debates will be.

    if i was in a place of work where brown was to visit, i wouldnt shake his hand, id pin him down on hard facts and ask direct questions about his numerous failings. hed get a piece of my mind and my size ten boot up his backside at the end of it.

    the man is a baffoon, he hasnt got a clue what he is doing

  • Comment number 73.

    No one seems to have mentioned yet that besides being totally undemocratic by excluding the governing party of Scotland (and most likely the biggest party in terms of % if not actual MPs up here after the election), the debates won't even make sense and will actually be misleading voters, unless these debates will steer clear of those minor issues devolved in Scotland, like education, health and justice. We've already had Labour fighting Westminster by-elections in Glasgow using devolved issues, so let's not have entire debates doing so, eh?

    To make matters worse, the media, by their very involvement in the drawing up of these debates, is effectively colluding in what is tantamount to a unionist conspiracy. Not that I expect anything less from them, of course. It would be nice to see questions being asked about this thoroughly unfair setup, though. Journalism, I believe it's called

  • Comment number 74.

    These broadcasts are for a General Election, Im not even sure after devolution that the scots should have ANY MPS in parliment!

    Only a small percentage of Bills effect them. If say 20% of bills cover scotland then they at most should have 20% of their current MP's or their MP's sould be paid 20% of a full time MP.

    Given their track record of voting for increased taxes and charges (eg, top up fees are a tax on education and perscription charges) where the vote for a charge that does not apply to scotland but hits the rest of us hard in the pockets!

    And as of last months anouncment by their leader we know that if their is a hung parliment the SNP votes are up for sale I.E. his MP's will only vote for a bill IF their is a backhander giving something subsantual for Scotland! Yes i know its gone on before accross the UK but this is the first time i have heard a party up front anounce that each and evey vote will require payment.

  • Comment number 75.

    "52. At 10:11pm on 21 Dec 2009, cynicalHighlander wrote:
    50. themightyshed
    "It does seem extraordinary that the party of government in Scotland can be excluded from these debates. How is that fair? They are quite likely to be the most popular party (by % of vote) in these elections in Scotland."

    And Plaid in Wales it just shows the total mess of democracy in the UK as the English don't have a voice either."

    Agreed. This is still, technically, the UNITED Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Looking at just Great Britain, there is, at present, only one national government. And it is the leaders of the ONLY parties that can form that NATIONAL government that we want to see taking part in any debate.

    If Scotland doesn't like it - well, they have only themselves to blame. They wanted it both ways - to suck and blow at the same time. They wanted independence - but not enough to cut themselves off from the (British) gravy train. The downside is that in any national debate your *own* government doesn't get represented, as it is nothing more than a minority party, however well represented it is in your *own* country.

    If Scotland wants to be 'fully' represented, then bite the bullet - go it alone and cut yourself off completely from the rest of the UK (same goes for Wales). Until that happens, accept the mess that is British politics right now (thanks of course, let us NOT forget, to those two wonderful SCOTTISH PMs we have had for the last nearly 13 years), and stop moaning.

  • Comment number 76.

    "24. At 8:09pm on 21 Dec 2009, brownnothankyou wrote:
    Nick
    Please help . Where is the dodgy lord ? we have not heard from him for more than 2 weeks .Very unlike him!!
    is he sulking or on one of his rich friends'yacht?"

    You don't think he would show his face when he knew that the cliemet conferance would be a dead duck so he just let brown take the flac!

    Did you notice that for 7 of the last ten days Brown was every where promising more cash, bigger cuts, to turn water into wine in fact any thing a reporter wanted to hear from a world leading politition! Then the talks colapase and brown vanishes, i havnt seen or heard a peep from him for the last 3 days!

  • Comment number 77.

    #74 icewombat

    How many MP's at Westminster are from Scotland and England respectively?

    How many 'Scottish' MP's voted in favour of the legislation you've chosen to mention? If you care to look you will see that they belong to only one party, regardless of nationality (Welsh, English, Scottish).

    Also, are you suggesting that in the event of a hung parliament the SNP should not pursue the interests of the Scottish people as they were elected to do?

    Finally, "These broadcasts are for a General Election, Im not even sure after devolution that the scots should have ANY MPS in parliment!". Many matters are still reserved and therefore we must have representation as is our democratic right.

    The current constitutional settlement is not correct and I can understand why many of the English electorate are angered that MP's form other constituent nations can vote on legislation that only affects England. Perhaps you should lobby the next government to correct this?

  • Comment number 78.

    #75 conedia

    Nice to see someone has at last come out and said it, better tell the Scots, Welsh and NI electorate not to bother voting, conedia has decided that if you can't form the next majority government at Westminster then your vote doesn't count and you shouldn't be represented.

    Democracy in action, wherever did you get your political model from?

    I'm afraid you can't have it both ways, as we are all still in the UK we will be represented.

    Also good to know that Blair has officialy been disowned and is now 'Scottish' :)

    PS I don't think we did want it both ways, we haven't been asked yet. If you hadn't noticed, the 'main' three parties are blocking the question being asked at present.

  • Comment number 79.

    The Scottish situation shows that British politics is currently a mess, neither one thing nor another, and thanks I am sure to the two wonderful SCOTTISH prime ministers over the last nearly 13 years. Scotland (and I suppose Wales as well) seem to want to be able to suck and blow at the same time.

    Perhaps it's time to look at where further development of this situation can occur. Is there any reason why the UK cannot become a federal state, much like Canada? In Canada, there is the federal (i.e. national) goverment, and beneath that the individual provincial governments. At both federal and provincial levels, the governments are parliamentary in nature, modelled closely on the British system. Perhaps it's time we can learn from the Canadians.

    In Canada (a country in which I lived for nearly 30 years), the two main parties at both federal and provincial levels are the Conservatives and the Liberals. Provinces (especially Ontario) often vote for federal Tories (yes, called Tories in Canada) and provincial Liberals (or v.v.), in order to maintain some balance. It works quite well.

    This would put all 4 'countries' of the UK on an equal basis. The division of powers between the federals and the provinces in Canada is very explicitly set out, originally under the British North America Act, and subseuently under the constitution (which includes a charter of rights and freedoms). Bizarrely, Quebec has refused to be a signatory to the constitution, but somehow is still a part of Canada (it is a bit like Scotland - wants all the benefits without the downsides).

    Is this a solution to current UK politics?

  • Comment number 80.

    #79 conedia

    In short, no. Independence is the way forward. Strange that you wish the UK to remain intact in some form whilst disparaging your 'equal' partners in that union.

    "it is a bit like Scotland - wants all the benefits without the downsides"

    Well, you've made that assertion in both of your posts, care to back it up with some facts?

    As far as I was aware, the SNP wanted independence, whilst the three 'mains' unionist parties were happy with the status quo. Perhaps you could lobby your chosen party to rectify the situation at Westminster, good luck.

  • Comment number 81.

    80. At 09:33am on 22 Dec 2009, ScotInNotts wrote:
    #79 conedia

    In short, no. Independence is the way forward. Strange that you wish the UK to remain intact in some form whilst disparaging your 'equal' partners in that union.

    "it is a bit like Scotland - wants all the benefits without the downsides"

    Well, you've made that assertion in both of your posts, care to back it up with some facts?

    ------------------------------------

    As others have said, some of the inequalities are that, for example, Scottish MPs get to vote on issues that affect ONLY England but not vice versa. Or how about the Barnett formula, giving Scotland £1500 per head more in state funding than England? Nothing equal in either of these situations, they only benefit Scotland at England's (or the UK's) expense.

    Your assertion that a federal form of parliamentary government would not work in the UK needs to be backed up by some facts from you. I see only your prejudices at work when you say it won't - you want Scottish independence (obviously), and I doubt whether you would consider any alternative (however viable).

    You say independence is the way 'forward' - personally I think it is a way backwards - I actually love Scotland and have many Scottish colleagues and friends, but I also see that the current situation just cannot work in fairness (especially in fairness to England).

  • Comment number 82.

    It's a bit worrying that the media seems to be pressing down the route of creating presidential style politics. We still elect local MPs whose party leader is given the role of PM should they form the majority (and provided the Queen doesn't want to create a stir by appointing someone else!) While all in favour of they party leaders debating it would be good if those media outlets still having a regional responsibility were to look to supporting those of us who organise local hustings (with no political bias) to truly show democracy works rather than convincing everyone that they are only voting for a single person who will become PM.

  • Comment number 83.

    #81 conedia

    and yet you hold onto the subsidy myth. If you can show me the figures for the revenue raised and spent in Scotland then I'll happily agree.

    Unfortunately the best that is available is the GERS, which has shown Scotland to have been a net contributor to the UK economy, not withstanding oil revenues that are allocated direct to the treasury.

    The subsidy situation is a long held myth in the media.

    I agree, and so do a majority of Scots as a recent poll showed. Whilst there are those that remain to be convinced on independence a majority wish there to be change and desire full fiscal autonomy, including control over all natural resources. This would to all intents and purposes amount to a Federalised system, however England would still be without it's own legislature as it stands.

    Good luck convincing the establishment at Westminster in relinquishing completely the financial reigns of Scotland.

    As far as a federalised UK goes, the Lib Dems are supposed to favour this and yet are part of the unionist alliance in Scotland to block the referendume which would have such an option (or Dev max as some label it).

    With regards Scots MP's voting on English only legislation, you should really make that Scottish Labour MP's, a party political divide, not national. This is why SNP MP's do not vote on such issues.

    Quite right there are inequalities, and not all one sided as you would make out.

  • Comment number 84.

    79. At 09:10am on 22 Dec 2009, conedia wrote:
    Scotland (and I suppose Wales as well) seem to want to be able to suck and blow at the same time."

    So, its do as we say and not as we do?

    The inability to see past ones own ego is scary at times.

    I have had enough of both the sucking dry and blowing hot, in equal titanical measure.

    The barnett formula....jeez

  • Comment number 85.

    Hey, BBC, where's Brian Ts blog buried? There was a couple of topics I made contributions to, that I felt like checking for comments on?

    Spose we'll just have to suck it up, huh?

  • Comment number 86.

    Robinson:

    "The electorate as a whole will decide by casting votes in the ballot box."

    Yes I will,but not for any of these crapulent Lib/Lab/Con traitors.

  • Comment number 87.

    "Who cares? This isn't showbusiness. It's democracy"

    well, kind of. it wasn't very democratic when brown assumed the mantle of running the country via a coup without a single relevant vote being cast, and then proceeded to create the biggest national debt in our history and the worst recession ever.

    Democracy is when you get to vote for who you want to put into power, it's not when you're asked to vote for the person who's already assumed power by default via a coup.

    My guess is that the ITV debate will actually be the most independent/valid one, and people will only watch the BBC "debate" to have a laugh at the state of BBC "independence".

    Personally I'm only going to watch the ITN/ITV and Sky debates; I just can't bear to watch the BBC when they deal with Gordon Brown as it's just too stomach-churning to watch the mutual appreciation society in action. (I can't bear to watch Question Time anymore for the same reason; it's simply too bias to be palatable anymore with their rent-a-labour-mob audience crowds etc)

  • Comment number 88.

    #76 "Did you notice that for 7 of the last ten days Brown was every where promising more cash, bigger cuts, to turn water into wine in fact any thing a reporter wanted to hear from a world leading politition! Then the talks colapase and brown vanishes, i havnt seen or heard a peep from him for the last 3 days!"

    What worries me is that I can't remember the exact date on which Gordon Brown said that there were only 50 days left to save the world.

    Copenhagen having failed, I'm just wondering how long we all have left.

  • Comment number 89.

    Nick,

    The BBC says the debates will be: "in front of a selected audience."

    What does that mean? Who gets to select the audience? And on what criteria? Does this mean the BBC will just draft in anyone who's a union member or a labour councillor just like they seem to do on Question Time? Maybe throw in a few BNP supporters into the audience too and pretend/imply they're tories?

  • Comment number 90.

    These debates will be meaningless if they do not include the minority parties. There is very little clear water between Labour, Liberal and Tory policies on two matters in particular that deeply affect the country namely
    - membership of the EU and
    - Manmade Global Warming.
    The EU now controls government policy on so many crucial parts of our life yet we have no democratic control over its actions. Labour denied us a promised referendum, Lib Dems conspired to back that policy and the Tories have chickened out at the last minute.
    On Manmade Global Warming, the three parties have all swallowed the IPCC line and seem unwilling to allow the science to be debated depite strong scientific evidence to the contrary. This will have dire consequences for every man woman and child for years to come in terms of taxation hikes, higher fuel and transport costs, the knock on affect on food and living costs in general and economic policy.
    Elections are all about choice and allowing the main parties to dominate airtime is undemocratic. Let us see the main parties being challeneged on this cosy consensus by UKIP, BNP and even the Monster Raving Loony Party. Of course the Greens have a problem with the main parties having hijacked much of their agenda.
    Public opinion polls constantly show that the majority in this country are far from happy with our membership of the EU and are skeptics on MMGW. Debates must address these issues but there is no debate if the 3 leaders sing from the same hymn book; I suspect that the true debate will take place on the Internet.
    If we have Simon Cowell getting involved with a showbiz version of politics, this country could finish up being governed by a coalition of Cowell and Tesco. Its worth considering however that Cowell thought he would dominate the Christmas number 1 slot in the music charts; a determined Internet campaign has dashed his hopes. Just shows the power of the information revolution. TV is losing its grip. You Tube is becoming a good source of information and UKIP for one make full use of it for informing supporter. Manipulated debates presented by the mainstream media are now taking second place to open debate on the Net and there could be major upsets for the main parties at the general election.

  • Comment number 91.

    I suspect that the audience figures will drop very quickly after the first 10 minutes as it will become apparent that the old party line is being trotted out and long winded non-answers full of meaningless rhetoric will pollute the airwaves.

    How about a time limit on answers to spice thing up a bit, better still a whole section only allowed to be answered by yes/no. I can see them choking now. Especially master obfuscator Brown.

    Or even a questionmaster that is totally dominant and shuts them up quickly as soon as they revert back to yah-boo mode. An off switch on their microphone perhaps?

    Or a ban on mentioning the other parties, just what they would do.

    By the way who chooses the studio audience, and why do we need one anyway? Leaves the whole thing open to placemen and biased clapping.

  • Comment number 92.

    It does seem rather strange that this debate about the "poor Scottish voters" surfaces when we have an MP from Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath in Scotland as PM of the United Kingdom which includes England, when his party realised only the second largest number of votes in the last election. Now what's this about representation?

    One thing is certain; after the next election the Tories will get the most votes in England and may well get the largest number of MP's. If that is the case if there was a Labour Government it would only be in power because of Scottish MP's. They will of course then suggest that they have received a mandate to implement their policies on Education, the NHS, Law and order and Transport when they certainly won't have received the endorsement of the English voters.

    Isn't it about time devolution was conferred on the other country of the United Kingdom?

  • Comment number 93.

    #89 bet there are no super hero's present in the audience either

  • Comment number 94.

    Look through previous blog postings and I think you'll find that the much over-used X-factor comparison has previously been applied to Jury Team.

    A plague on all your houses would be a great outcome from these live TV debates. We need more independents in the next Parliament...

  • Comment number 95.

    Guess we wont being seeing much of Gordon in the build up to these debates. He will be in training to get his 'quips' ready and practising his smiles. Noww that would be fun to watch.

    As for the Jocks. Its meant to be a debate and not a whinge. Anyway Gordon i am sure we speak on their behalf. Ha!

 

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