Election debate: What is the leaders' TV debate all about?

Last updated at 18:35
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The leaders of the Labour and Conservative parties will go face-to-face in the first TV debate ahead of next month's general election

The first leaders' TV debate takes place on 19 November ahead of next month's general election.

TV debates between different party leaders are a big part of their political campaigns, but why do they happen and what can we expect from them?

Read on to find out more.

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WATCH: De'Graft looks ahead to the first TV leaders' debate of the 2019 general election
What is a leaders' election debate?

Election debates help to make sure that party leaders can be questioned about what they would do if they were in power.

Before a general election, different political parties campaign to try and encourage members of the public to vote for their party.

The debates mean that leaders have to explain why and how they hope to bring about some of their election promises.

What happens during a TV debate?
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TV debates like this one from 2015 see party leaders discuss a range of important topics ahead of general elections

Election debates are shown on TV and usually last around an hour and a half.

They give political leaders the opportunity to question one another about their policies and aims. Policies are included in something known as a manifesto and party leaders are able to closely inspect plans put forward by other parties.

Leaders can also highlight specific comments or statements made by other parties during the campaigning process.

During the debates, a host asks the leaders questions on a number of important topics, like Brexit. The debates typically take place in front of a live audience who are also able to put forward their questions.

Party leaders' answers and body language are often looked at during TV debates, as well as any mistakes they might have made.

Who decides who gets to take part?

At the moment, broadcasters like the BBC, ITV and Sky News have the power to decide how many parties are involved in a leaders' debate, and whether they even take place.

When is the first debate - and why are some parties not happy about it?
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Prime minister Boris Johnson will be taking on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the first election debate

The first TV debate will be on 19 November in the lead up to next month's general election,

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will be facing off against the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the debate will be broadcast on ITV.

However, not everyone is happy with the head-to-head. Both the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party (SNP) wanted to be included in the debate and even took legal action, but both parties lost their legal challenges.

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Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford both believe their parties should be included in the first TV leaders' debate

The parties believe it's unfair that they weren't invited to take part in the debate. The Liberal Democrats argued that the Conservatives and Labour are both pro-Brexit parties. They said it'd be wrong to exclude a party which wants the UK to remain in the EU.

Lib Dem chairman Sal Brinton said: "No TV executive should have the power to decide which voices are represented to the British people, and no individual should have it dictated to them, who their vote should be between."

The Lib Dems also sent a legal letter to the BBC over its decision not to include their leader Jo Swinson in a debate to be held at the beginning of December.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford wanted his party to be included in the debate as it was the third-largest in Westminster and by membership in the UK.

When are the other election debates happening?

A number of other debates are also planned. Sky News wants to hold a debate between Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson on 28 November.

The BBC has also announced plans to broadcast two election debate programmes on 29 November and 6 December, plus another aimed at younger audiences.

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