Full steam ahead for Leaders’ debate, but still no plans for policy debates

Following the confirmation that there will be a “Leaders’ Debate” in the Election campaign, we are today asking why there are no plans for policy debates.

Following the confirmation last night that there will be a “Leaders’ Debate” in the General Election campaign, Left Foot Forward is today asking why there are no plans for Departmental head-to-heads between Ministers and their shadows.

In the United States, the Vice Presidential nominees square up in live tv debates, yet no such plans are in place here, with only three shows between the three main party leaders, on ITV, Sky and the BBC – though the SNP and Plaid Cymru are reportedly considering legal action if they aren’t involved.

If, then, debates are to be held in Cardiff and Edinburgh, it seems fair to ask of the broadcasters to at least consider hosting debates between the Cabinet and their Tory and Lib Dem shadows, giving the public the opportunity to compare the strenghts, statures and intellects of those seeking to govern.

As important as character, it will also enable the public to examine, and contrast, the policies of the parties in the key areas of the economy, health, education, law & order, foreign affairs etc. the details of which are likely to be lost in the heated exchanges between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

Here’s how the debates could shape up:

BUSINESS Lord Mandelson Ken Clarke John Thurso
LDR. OF THE HOUSE Harriet Harman Sir George Young David Heath
TREASURY Alistair Darling George Osborne Vince Cable
CHIEF SECRETARY Liam Byrne Philip Hammond Jeremy Browne
FOREIGN OFFICE David Miliband William Hague Ed Davey
JUSTICE Jack Straw Dominic Grieve David Howarth
HOME OFFICE Alan Johnson Chris Grayling Chris Huhne
ENVIRONMENT Hilary Benn Nick Herbert Tim Farron
DEVELOPMENT Douglas Alexander Andrew Mitchell Michael Moore
COMMUNITIES John Denham Caroline Spelman Julia Goldsworthy
SCHOOLS Ed Balls Michael Gove David Laws
CLIMATE CHANGE Ed Miliband Greg Clark Simon Hughes
HEALTH Andy Burnham Andrew Lansley Norman Lamb
WORK & PENSIONS Yvette Cooper Theresa May Steve Webb
DEFENCE Bob Ainsworth Liam Fox Nick Harvey
TRANSPORT Lord Adonis Theresa Villiers Norman Baker
CULTURE Ben Bradshaw Jeremy Hunt Don Foster

In April, speaking in support of the principle of a leaders’ debate, the Leader of the Opposition said:

“Any time, any place, anywhere.”

Left Foot Forward wonders whether he’d be as keen on our idea.

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23 Responses to “Full steam ahead for Leaders’ debate, but still no plans for policy debates”

  1. Shamik Das

    Tories afraid to debate policy: RT @leftfootfwd: Full steam ahead for Leaders’ debate, but no plans for policy debates: http://is.gd/5xf8d

  2. Paul Evans

    Full steam ahead for Leaders’ debate, but still no plans for policy debates http://bit.ly/8e1KHz

  3. Adam Pogonowski

    People are missing the point that there isn’t going to be much debate between three parties that share the same views by-and-large. It is also outrageous that the Green Party has been excluded – it has elected officials nationwide, and in the European Parliament, and also is a very relevant party given Copenhagen this year. Yet of course, the broadcasters don’t want to hear commonsense and give the public an alternative – something that we actually crave.

  4. Rory

    RICS, Building and Property Week are jointly hosting pre-election hustings at RICS headquarters on 19 January.

    Housing Minister, Ian Austin MP will be joined on the platform by Conservative and Liberal Democrat Housing Shadows, Grant Shapps MP and Sarah Teather MP.

    The session will provide an opportunity for 100 property sector professionals to quiz the three parties on their property-related policy plans.

    Property Week and Building are taking bookings to attend on a first come, first served basis.

  5. Anon E Mouse

    Adam Pogonowski – Remind me how many Green MP’s there are in the Commons?

    One prominent Green campaigner from Norwich, Rupert Read, came forth place behind the UKIP. Judging by some of the outlandish remarks he makes on the internet I’m surprised he achieved that position.

    The fact is it’s all very well voting for the Greens at a local or European level (where they are unable to affect big things in our lives) but when it comes to the serious business of government most people would never vote for a party with the silly views they hold.

    After that life wasting, CO2 generating farce in Copenhagen last week, I’m surprised most Greens aren’t hiding themselves away in a dark corner.

    Best place for them until they get real I say. Green MP’s? No thanks.

  6. Tom

    “Left Foot Forward wonders whether he’d be as keen on our idea.”

    I’ll guess probably not, because it’s a rubbish idea. How many people are going to be interested in a debate between the prospective Work and Pensions secretaries? 12? And I’d bet half of them work on this blog.

  7. Anon E Mouse

    Tom – Don’t hold back with your opinion Tom – tell it like you see it man!

    The cabinet members wouldn’t do it – half of them would be eaten alive by their opposite number. David Miliband against William Hague? Ed Balls against Michael Gove? Alistair Darling against Vince Cable?

    They would be chewed up and spat out in a heartbeat and they know it.

    The only reason Brown’s doing it is because he has nothing to lose…

  8. Henry

    The prospect of 17 debates (plus 3 among the party leaders & more in Scotland, Wales, & N Ireland) is enough to make make want to leave the country right now.

  9. Liz McShane

    Anon – what about the success of The Greens in Germany….?

  10. Liz McShane

    Anon – p.s I admit that some of the opposition candidates are impressive public speakers but I think Ed Balls will not have a problem vis a vis debating with Michael Grove – he is pompous but not very effective – Thank God!

  11. Adam Pogonowski

    Anon – what a lot of rubbish. We do not hold “silly” views of any sort. People preconceive us as holding such views, but we actually do not. Look into the manifesto before making bland statements.

    And this may shock you, but local and continental politics are equally as important as domestic tittle-tattle that Lib-Lab-Con spew forth. Quite frankly, some people view local politics are far more important, as it affects them more.

    And it may well also surprise you, but the Greens though Copenhagen was a failure, and guess what? They had nothing to do with negotiations etc. as it was the Capitalist neo-libs who decided the agenda and dictated proceedings.

    With such awfully misinformed remarks, the person that ought to hide in a dark corner, is yourself, Sir.

  12. Anon E Mouse

    Liz – Gove would eat him for breakfast – we disagree there. As usual I’m right. On the Greens in Germany front… ok but in the UK they are really not taken seriously.

    Adam Pogonowski – Nice polite insults towards me – I like that.

    I have voted for the Greens locally but like Greenpeace, as soon as they start the crazy political statements it just turns people off. That’s why no one votes for you. (Sorry but it’s true)

    It doesn’t matter what your manifesto says Adam, I accept it may have merit but no one is listening. Every time a government, admittedly not a Green government, taxes us to drive a car with the “Green Escalator” (invented by John Major btw) it just gets peoples backs up.

    Why can I drive in Florida or Europe where I go three times every year and pay so much less for fuel?

    Your opinion may be right but it is in a minority in the UK. I speak as a sceptical person – especially where this nonsense and exaggerated language is used by members of the Green Party.

    Adam we are not going to be “incinerated as a species” whether we reduce CO2 production or not.

    I would have thought that the Greens wanted to get people on board and agree with their message rather than make themselves figures of ridicule, which, with recent comments from your activists, you most certainly are.

    With the silly alarmist language your activists use I put it to you Adam that you need to head for that dark corner as soon as possible and hang your head in shame.

  13. Anon E Mouse

    Will – I’m experiencing “Rupert Read” withdrawal symptoms… any idea where he is? With all this bad news on the weather front I need cheering up…

  14. The Parallax Brief

    There’s just not enough interest to justify debates between departmental heads.

    Perhaps on Westminster TV or BBC News 24, or something.

    Mandelson against Clarke would be tasty, though; as would Miliband against Hague, if their joint Today program interview a few weeks back was anything to go by.

  15. Adam Pogonowski

    Alarmist language? When thousands of species die off each year, probably caused by us, which upsets the harmonious interplay between the planet’s species to such a great extent, this perhaps justifies alarmist language.

    However, we are not raving loonies who wage a General Election campaign on such issues. Believe it or not, we put people first; we want to end sleaze politics, and the complacent approach adopted by the Holy Trinity in Westminster; we want to increase people’s well-being, rather than just their material wealth; we wish to provide education freely for all, without letting standards slip, using a system based solely on academic merit, not one where money can influence admittances; we also are keen on lowering CO2, by the way, in a way that actually makes some impact, and makes our lives healthier, and oriented away from money money money, and the dehumanised society we find ourselves in currently.

    Was that alarmist? Or silly? Absolutely not. If you really critically evaluated society at the moment, you would see that it’s essentially dehumanised ex facie; deeper down the core principles that combine to provide a humane approach to living exist – however, they have been temporarily sidelined for the past 280 years in the quest for money and unfulfilling power.

  16. Anon E Mouse

    Adam – Your final paragraph tells everyone exactly why your party will never be elected to power, mercifully for the rest of us.

    The fact you actually believe that the past 280 years have been a quest for money and power and not 280 years of advancement in science, medicine and the arts is the reason you’ll always be in a minority.

    I said it before. Some of the language used by the Greens and tree huggers on this blog is like an episode of Transformers and not worthy of serious consideration.

    Adam you should learn to be happy being a single issue cranky bunch of dreamers because that’s where you’re staying.

  17. Adam Pogonowski

    Well, it has also been an advancement in science, medicine and the arts, but that does not detract from the fact that society has become ever more ruthless in its pursuit for money. Never more so than since the 70s.

    And I think you find it not worthy of consideration because you are happy with the status quo. Perhaps you don’t really care so much about people from my background, who struggle enormously to get by. And perhaps you care not for the future generations to come, who have just as much right to enjoy the basic natural environment that we have (I’ll refer you to Joel Feinberg in Blackstone (ed.) Philosophy and Environmental Crisis). Perhaps you do care. You come across as not doing so though. You certainly do not say where you stand.

  18. Anon E Mouse

    Adam – I most certainly do care and I come from a straight forward working class background but I consider myself to be a realist where the environment is concerned.

    I am happy with any democratic system involving free speech. I am unhappy with the current government who I feel have truly betrayed the people of this country by turning into a bunch of self serving over regulating control freaks.

    Their behaviour is inexcusable and at the next election they will get their just deserts and when it comes to the environment the Tories are even worse.

    What I do not like however is an assumption by people in this country that governments have the right to force their views on the masses without consultation and when that involves taxing the people I am against it big time.

    The arrogant views of the Greens serve only to alienate the general public who you should be trying to get onside.

    People in this country, after 12 years of this current government, are sick of being lectured at and the attitudes of the “Green” activists serve only to agitate them.

    Your message may be valid Adam but your means of delivery do you no favours. The people in this country have more important things to worry about I’m afraid.

  19. Adam Pogonowski

    I do not know what arrogant views you refer to… If you mean taxing the better off at increased rates, and taxing polluting industries more, saving taxpayers’ money by not conducting ridiculous foreign policies, then these are not arrogant but necessary.

  20. Anon E Mouse

    Adam – The arrogant view is that you believe actions should be forced on people irrespective of whether those people share your views, the ones that you feel necessitate the action.

    When you tax the polluting industries as you call them who do you think ultimately pays that tax? The poor do. Again.

    We need nuclear power dramatically increasing. There was a time when you tree huggers used to hate the power of the atom. How things change.

  21. Adam Pogonowski

    I think you will find we still do hate nuclear power. And Anon, we are about much more than environmental protection. Under the various policies and schemes we have in our manifesto, the poor do not end up paying. The poor will be far better off, as we move towards a more socially just model of governance.

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