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:

       
DEPARTMENT LABOUR CONSERVATIVE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS
       
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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