Labour’s guarantee of TV debates in future elections

A Labour Government will move decisively after the General Election to ensure TV debates are a permanent feature of future campaigns by putting a requirement for them to take place on a statutory footing. And Ed Miliband has confirmed that he will take up the broadcasters’ offer to take part in all three of the proposed debates during the forthcoming election campaign.

 Ed Milband said: “In recent days the British public has been treated to the unedifying and tawdry spectacle of a Prime Minister seeking to duck out of the TV debates he once claimed to support with great enthusiasm.

“Yesterday the broadcasters made it clear they would not be cowed by his tactics but it is wrong for them and the British public to have governing parties use this kind of pressure in campaign periods.

“It is time to ensure, once and for all, that these debates belong to the people not the Prime Minister of the day. I am determined that no Prime Minister from whatever party should ever again be allowed to play fast and loose with these debates which are necessary in a healthy, modern democracy.

“It is time to do what so many other countries do and put on the planning of debates on a clearly established footing so that there can be no doubt that they will take place and people get the opportunity to make up their own minds about candidates for the post of Prime Minister.”

The decision by Ed Miliband is designed to minimise the gamesmanship that has characterised the Conservative Party’s approach to the negotiations this year that has sought to stop the debates taking place at all. 

The next government will put on a statutory footing the requirement to stage fair and impartial Leaders’ Debates during all future General Elections.

It is envisaged that this new system would work in a similar way to the current rules for planning the number, length and timing of Party Political Broadcasts where parties are consulted – but not given a veto over them happening.

Before bringing forward detailed proposals, the next government will hold detailed consultations with broadcasters, the Electoral Commission, representatives of all the main political parties, as well as individuals with experience of debate negotiations both in the UK and overseas.

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