Sunday, January 24, 2010

TV Debates Hit Problems

The leaders' TV debates are already running into trouble in two ways. the TV schedulers are worried about a clash with Champions' League games, which are being played everu Tuesday and Wesnesday in April. Personally, I would like to see the debates scheduled for a Saturday or Sunday evening, as that would maximise the audience.

The second area of concern is the format of the debates. According to the News of the World there will be absolutely no audience interaction, with people being discouraged from clapping, let along asking questions. This is a pity. I'd far rather audience members got a chance to quiz the leaders with no input from an interviewer at all.

But it is the fact that Labour are apparently insisting on having the lion's share of the audience, on the basis of their parliamentary majority! Astonishing. Or maybe not. Perhaps we should expect it of them.

I'll be discussing the scheduling issue on the Stephen Nolan Show on 5 Live just after 11pm tonight.

33 comments:

sarah said...

This is proof positive that Brown is terrified of the whole thing - and he is.

He knows that he is sunk without pre-scripted lines - pity. I would love to have seen Brown humiliated.

If they don't go ahead, the biggest loser, without doubt, is Calamity.

Hermeneuticals said...

That still leaves Sun-Thu. Sunday is best for the audience but its OK to go against the Europa League on Thursday. Its only potentially Liverpool & Everton - they hate The Sun - so will be voting Labour anyway.

The Lakelander said...

"Labour are apparently insisting on having the lion's share of the audience, on the basis of their parliamentary majority"

That would perhaps also explain why three-quarters of the audience for Question Time are also lefties, supplied courtesy of a loyal BBC?

Moriarty said...

You're doing Stephen Nolan? You really do suffer for your art don't you?

I predict he'll whine on that it's "just obvious" that Labour should have the lion's share....what'ya bet me?

heckmonwyke said...

Why the surprise it was always a stupid stunt,this is a General election not a Presidential election

Richard Manns said...

May I suggest that this is Brown's way of closing the debate plan down?

This is a finely tuned demand: any more offensive, and it would have invited derision rather than anger.

Mr Brown appears to be afraid. Very afraid. Which seems to say a lot, since he is almost rock bottom with relatively little to lose, whereas Cameron has little to win, which might say a lot about how badly Brown expects to lose.

DeeDee99 said...

An audience based on the result of the last election is unacceptable. Labour is obviously fearful that Brown will fail to convince anyone unless he has a 'tame' audience to cheer his every word.

nickthornsby said...

The US formats in 2008 worked quite well. It actually can make the politician's job harder if the audience have to keep quiet because they can't really make jokes or play to the audience in the way we often see on Question Time. I think a combination of debates with audience participation some of the time would be best.

Mitch said...

an audience based on current opinion polling will do and no agreed questions. We need the Audience to ask the questions and the three monkeys to answer them properly.

Peter said...

But it is the fact that Labour are apparently insisting on having the lion's share of the audience, on the basis of their parliamentary majority! Astonishing. Or maybe not. Perhaps we should expect it of them.

So too is it astonishing that Cameron thinks that the Tories should make up the majority of the audience - this is the sort of hubris which makes sure fewer people want to vote for him.

Joe Public said...

"I would like to see the debates scheduled for a Saturday or Sunday evening, as that would maximise the audience."

Don't flatter your (political) self, Iain.

The majority of the public in this country abhor politics & politicians.

The Simpsons provide more entertainment than any prospective 'leader' of the next Parliament would do in a televised debate.

Moriarty said...

I hear that Brown has a new strategy for the election to be revealed just after the results are in. Following his chum Obama's claim that the voters in Massachusetts voted for a Republican because they were angry with Bush, he's going to argue that a vote for the Tories is in facty an endorsement of himself. Thus he will stay in Downing Street.

Such is life in the bizarro world of modern "democratic" politics.

Bird said...

The BBC and Labour Party are already packing politial debates with leftie audiences if last week's Question Time and Any Questions are any indication.
The Tories should take these programes more seriously. They put up a feeble woman MP (can't remember her name) for QT and added insult to injury by getting Daily Mail hack Amanda Platell for AQ. It's a long time since I've heard a Tory spokesperson bood.
Is this the work of Andy Caulson? He seems to be doing a crap job at the moment.

The Grim Reaper said...

So, should Labour get the lion's share on the audience on the grounds they're the government? There's only one way to sort this out - FIGHT!

*cue Gordon Brown and Call Me Dave coming in throwing pies at one another before Clegg jumps in with the jelly*

john in cheshire said...

Well, we'll just remember the next time such an event occurs, and ensure that the Conservative, or BNP or UKIP party; whoever is in power; has a majority of its supporters in the audience. Of course, the BBC won't exist by then, so such blatent bias and petulance will not be an issue.

Unsworth said...

Given the naked bias of the BBC and its selection of audiences for Question Time etc, it's surprising that Labour even bother making such demands. Are they afraid that their supporters in our national broadcaster will somehow fail?

Andy JS said...

Labour will be hoping that whoever chooses the audiences will be the same person who chooses audiences for the BBC's Question Time programme, which I'm sorry to say always contains far more leftists than are justified.

There's going to be an audience for these debates but they're going to be like dummies, completely unable to participate in the show.

What's the point in having them in that case?

Sean Haffey said...

You choose the audience at random from those who have applied for tickets. That's representative of the population now, regardless of who they voted for 5 years ago or whether they voted at all.

And quite frankly the parties should be told to butt out of the organisation. They can take part or not, but the Beeb (or ITV or Sky) will decide how to run the debates.

Arrogant political bar stewards

David said...

The Audience should be 25% for each party and the other 25% should be for undecided voters.

Max Atkinson said...

If there's an audience there, they won't be able to prevent them from clapping. There was supposed to be a ban on applause in the 1984 US election debates between Reagan and Mondale - but it failed miserably and the audience started clapping more or less whenever either of them used one of the main rhetorical techniques to package a message.

I wrote an article on it in the 'Washington Post', which ended 'Perhaps in future debates there should either be no live audiences or the candidates should be required to speak from specially edited scripts containing no claptrap.'

If I can find the original, I'll post it on my blog ASAP by way of guidance to those currently dreaming of cooking up daft rules that can't be enforced (unless, of course, members of the audience are required to wear hand cuffs).

Twig said...

The audience should be randomly selected, alternatively allow the audience to be made up from supporters of the parties whose leaders have been barred from participating.

adamcollyer said...

If the audience won't be allowed to ask questions and will even be discouraged from clapping, why bother with an audience at all? Predictably, the whole "debates" thing is descending into farce.

thebluelawnmower said...

I discussed this earlier on my blog, that Browns majority audience being labour orientated argument is invalid today, I feel this is one of many tactics by Brown to actually avoid the debate.

The other debate is a snap march election, with may 6th being a Bad Al Campbell spin ploy

strapworld said...

But Cameron's viewpoint, based on his poll ratings, is equally stupid.

Surely, following Brown's logic it should be based on the popular poll, overall, of the last General Election, and did not the Conservative Party poll far more than Labour?

trevorsden said...

If the debates are to have an active audience (or any audience really, but most definitely an active audience) then it is surely utterly totally unacceptable for it to be slanted 2 to 1 in Browns favour.

A suppose everyone will have their own ideas - but there can be no justification for that.

Will it be a sticking point for Labour. Seems to me it gives the Tories an easy get out.

FonyBlair said...

What's wring with all teh other days? And what % of football watchers want to watch a political debate!?

Max Atkinson said...

As threatened in my previous comment, I've just posted an article on the Reagan-Mondale TV debates in 1985 ago (written in 1985), that may have some pointers for all those (in the media and political parties) who seem to think they know how to specify the rules of engagement: http://bit.ly/6Z49OM

JMB said...

So who is going to be the token Liberal supporter in the audience!

abitmoretwit said...

Hrm. I guess the question is whether you should filter the audience at all.

Once you accept that the audience should be allocated based on some weighting, you can either evenly divide it between the three (and you can bet those of us in the main parties would be howling if the Lib Dems were to demand parity), or divide it based on some gauge of size - parliamentary seats is as good as any...

Norfolk Blogger said...

Didn't mention that Cameron wants a larger share of the audience too.

Why did you miss that out from your story Iain ?

Twig said...

@abitmoretwit
"you can either evenly divide it between the three (and you can bet those of us in the main parties would be howling if the Lib Dems were to demand parity), or divide it based on some gauge of size - parliamentary seats is as good as any..."
=====
So if you don't support any of the existing bodies in the HOC you're excluded ?

Is that how democracy works?

I thought it was supposed to be open to everyone, regardless of race, age, political persuasion etc.?

Dimoto said...

Wait until the Conservatives find out that the "question masters" for BBC and Sky are the Labour luvvies David Dimblebee and Adam Boulton.

Anonymous said...

Go to Citizens Against Pro-Obama Media Bias and watch their interesting meeting of minds from the Wall Street Journal, BBC, Washington Post and NBC News under a professional chairman.
I only wish the bbc could do talking heads as good as this one.