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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Will the Prime Minister be empty-seated in TV debates?

When she announced the General Election Theresa May was very clear that she would not be participating in any leaders debates. Presumably she has calculated that to do so would give her opponents greater credibility and exposure, a mistake Cameron made in 2010. However, whether that position is sustainable over the period of a campaign has yet to be seen.

The Independent reports that ITV have said that it will push ahead with a debate, while the BBC has also now said it wants the studio audience events to happen. Whilst a poll has suggested an overwhelming majority of Britons believe there should be televised debates between party leaders during the general election campaign:

A spokesman from ITV told The Independent that the broadcaster would "hold a leaders’ debate as we did in 2010 and 2015."

It will be hosted by Julie Etchingham, who chaired a similar event in 2015, with further details due to be released in due course. A source confirmed leaders had been invited, but would not say what would happen if any refused to show up.

BBC head of news gathering Jonathan Munro said: "The BBC is working hard to make sure that there are leaders’ debates on the TV in the run-up to the general election because they are overwhelmingly in the public interest."

There have been calls for broadcasters to "empty chair" Ms May if she does not attend, but her aides said the Prime Minister's refusal remained in place despite signals that the broadcasters may push ahead without her. 

Will May be empty chaired? That has to be seen.
If the ITV debate goes ahead, one can anticipate the government's response. It has been prefigured in www.order-order.com. The show will be dismissed as the "losers talking amongst themselves".

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