GE2015: David Cameron and the TV debates

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown during a 2010 TV debate

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown during a 2010 TV debate

David Cameron has every reason to hate the election TV debates, but he can relax about these ones.

In 2010, the TV debates were one of the undisputed highlights of the election campaign (second only to Gordon Brown’s bigoted woman comment). This year the format being proposed is one of a congealed multi-coloured mess, where every man and his political dog will be given a platform to voice their policies and promises to the complete bewilderment of the viewers at home. As the proposals stand at the moment, two of this years election debates will contain seven parties, and one will be a head to head stand off between the Labour and Conservative leaders.

In 2010, Cameron cautiously accepted an invitation to take part in these exciting new debates. At the time they were meant to demonstrate to the electorate that the fresh faced, husky hugging Cameron was ready to take over from tired and beleaguered Brown. At one point Cameron even jeered Brown for hesitating over whether he would take part. Fast forward to 2015, and it’s Cameron behaving like the petulant child – and with good reason!

Firstly, as it stands the Conservatives are set to outspend Labour by 3:1, with an election war chest standing at around £79 million. These vast figures will allow the Tories to reach every part of the country, advertise their policies and promises far more, and discredit Ed Miliband and fellow rivals with greater velocity than any other political party. Why would a party with such a big advantage want to offer their political rivals a free stage and captive audience? The answer is, they don’t.

Potential 2015 TV debate line up?

Potential 2015 TV debate line up?

Secondly, there is an increasing anti political rhetoric that goes down well with the electorate. It was the same rhetoric that spurred on Clegg Mania, and it is quickly being adopted by UKIP. The electorate will feel refreshed by the sign of new parties that they haven’t seen or heard much from before. Their lack of government experience will give these parties an opportunity to present themselves as a fresh new alternative. These new parties are untainted by scandals that have engulfed and tainted the Westminster elite: The expenses scandal, the Iraq war, the historic sex abuse enquiry; all leave a bad taste in the mouths of voters. The TV election debates will give these smaller parties an opportunity to present themselves as the party of ‘change’ – a word the Conservative party despise.

The final reason why the Conservative party should hate the TV debates is because they are now a party of government. These TV debates are a completely different ball game when you have to stand up and defend the decision you did or didn’t make. As a governing party the buck stops with you. All the societal issues being raised by the other parties are all issues that the electorate will identify as not being solved during your last five years in office. Despite your desperate attempts at placing your record on the table, the only thing that the other parties have in common is that they all want to see you fail. Governing parties can never do well in these debates, it is very easy to promise the electorate the world, but when you haven’t delivered the world, it is a lot more difficult to explain why.

Therefore, some would say that Cameron should steer well clear of these latest TV debates? – These people would be wrong. David Cameron should go into these TV debates with confidence. His political maneuverings demanding that the Greens should take part opened the Pandora’s box of political participation. Currently the broadcasters have had to appease seven parties in promising them a space on the podium, yet negotiations are not yet finished. If things continue as they are, both the Northern Ireland parties and the Respect party will be joining the others on stage. Nine political leaders on screen at the same time will be farcical. Not only will it offer terrible viewing, but it will create such a stilted and stagnated debate that viewers around the country will be switching off.

In addition to this, the other proposals being considered at the moment is a ‘prime ministers debate’ consisting of the two leaders of the biggest parties, Ed and Dave. This too should be a scenario from heaven for Cameron. As parties, the Conservatives and Labour are polling neck and neck, but when it comes to personal ratings, Cameron is currently in the premiership. Whether Labour like it or not, Ed Miliband is not an asset, he’s unpopular and unlikeable. To date, Ed Miliband’s approval ratings are as low as Nick Clegg’s, a club no one wants to be in. Freezing energy prices, attacking zero hour contracts and shouting about the struggling NHS are issues that matter to real people everyday. But however much you support such policies, the moment they get announced, supported or defended by Ed Miliband they lose credibility. The problem is you don’t look at Ed Miliband and think leader, you just think loser and Cameron knows this.

David Cameron has every reason to hate the election TV debates, but he can relax about these ones.

By James Evans, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.

Twitter: (@James_Evans101)

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