Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Gordon Brown should be "Empty Chaired"

There has been lots of comment prompted by Baron Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county of Durham's comments about him being "open" to the idea of a televised debate between the party leaders.

Since becoming PM, Brown himself has consistently poured cold water on the idea (although he was pretty keen that Thatcher should do one during the 1980s so not that consistent!) and apparently his spokesman has done so again about these latest rumours.

Rather than all this round the houses nonsense which will probably lead to no debate yet again, one of the TV networks should come forward and say they will host a 3-way debate in the run up to the general election. However, if any of the 3 main party leaders decide that they do not wish to participate, then that is up to them. The debate should go ahead anyway. Empty Chair him if he hasn't got the guts to turn up. Labour can't compain that they are not being given equal air time because the offer is there, it's up to Brown if he takes it.

Will any broadcaster have the courage to do this?


Pete B - Pete's Politics Blog said...

It could get a bit farcical if none of them were to agree to it - we'd have to spend an hour or so looking at three empty chairs.

Mark Thompson said...

That would be better than most of the stuff currently on ITV.


Duncan Stott said...

It is too political for a broadcaster to get involved with. However a newspaper could host a live online video debate.

Mark Thompson said...

But why? Surely if they extend the invite to all 3 leaders and one of them declines that's up to them. The broadcaster will have fulfilled their obligation to strive for balance, it is the leader who declines that is making the decision for it to happen without them.

Even if Brown doesn't want to engage in this way I would still like to see Cameron and Clegg questioned and held to account for their views.

Fausty said...

Great idea!

The Tories and LibDems wouldn't turn it down - nor would the Greens or the Libertarian Party. Nigel Farage sure wouldn't!

Imagine ... all parties, including the smaller parties turn up, except Labour.

Politics Mash said...

Mark, as ever, I find myself agreeing almost entirely with you.

The seemingly confused chatter from Downing St. shall result in nothing soon, one even begins to wonder if it is just the Baron Mandelson's musing of his own potential leadership style.

Anyway, like you say, empty chairing any party which refuses to participate is an excellent (and effective) way of a) demonstrating accountability for a manifesto as well as b) being a new and interesting way of opening up our democratic system. I suspect it'd beat any party political broadcast.

And as for these comments that broadcasters wouldn't touch the idea with a barge poll, didn't we have a very improvised edition of 'Leaders Questions Time' some years ago? Surely it wouldn't take too much to rejig one edition of Question Time.