18 Apr 2017

Election 2017: No TV debates this time

No 10 is saying there will be no TV debates cluttering up your screens in this election.

Rather than go down the route of pretending they’re longing for such things to happen but the logistics might be tricky they’ve gone for a more open approach: forget it.

Don’t expect many press conferences either or extended interviews.

Theresa May is not a huge fan of these sorts of encounters and her team think they open up risks that don’t need to be taken. So the 2017 general election will make the 2015 one look like “access all areas” as far as the Tories are concerned.

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the media outside 10 Downing Street in central London on April 18, 2017.

I hear the manifesto will probably be a slimmed down affair too. Mrs May didn’t think much of the 2015 effort with its 500 or so commitments. One minister said it was a “Christmas tree” of a document and “written without any thought to post-Brexit Britain.” But quite how much shape Mrs May wants to put on post -Brexit Britain at this stage is another matter.

What will the immigration, agriculture or state aid sections of the manifesto look like? How much will Mrs May want to spell out ring-fencing or the end of ring-fencing for some departments? What will she want to say about the pensioner triple lock in an election in which differential generational turnout could be key?

Theresa May’s team have had more time to ponder these things because they knew an early election was a possibility but it’s not clear how advanced the work is and whether it will be a manifesto more of themes than commitments.


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29 reader comments

  1. Ed says:

    You should invite all of the party leaders to a debate. If the Tories don’t show up, that’s their problem. If that would break campaign impartiality rules, set it up for before the dissolution of Parliament.

    1. mike knoth says:


  2. Mo Claydon says:

    Absolutely shocking, it reeks of an attempt to silence any opposition to me……

  3. Roger Higgins says:

    In fear of debating face to face with Corbyn. And has she not called it now because the Police deadline for action on her MPs electoral fraud investigation is 9th May?

    1. mike knoth says:


  4. Andy Atkins says:

    You’re going to let her get away with this!? Also, why not have another election to make the scandal of the previous election spending go away?

  5. Julia says:

    I am surprised Theresa May has taken this route. Cameron was a coward during the TV debates, but thought Mrs May would have more backbone than him. Obviously more scared of Labour than she is letting on.

  6. Julie France says:

    Probably because she’s frightened Jeremy will have the answers that the ordinary people of this country want, because up to now it’s been all about the rich!!

  7. Karen Clowes says:

    How can a democratic government say there will be no debate. We all need debate (but debates based on facts not fiction and lies as were spun during the EU referendum). But we definitely need debate .. this election isnt just about Brexit. If Teresa May is too scared to face scrutiny in the public domain – then it proves that she is not fit to govern our country

  8. M F Choi says:

    The lady is for turning?!

    1. mike knoth says:


  9. Graham mills says:

    No T.V. debates,No Election,Labour must insist on debates,it’s not Corbyn against May it’s about policies.

  10. Andrew Brennan says:

    The world has moved on from the good old days the torys imagine in their heads existited. We are living in the age of communication and technology a public debate should be mandatory not some and evil little snake can slither away from!! Hold the debate with an empty seat for her to show her lack of contempt for democracy!!

  11. Simon Goodchild says:

    Because the old psychopath can’t face criticism.

  12. Suzy Nichol says:

    Of course there won’t be, she can’t answer any questions unless the answers are wrote on a script for her.

  13. uisdean mor says:

    TM does not set tv schedules. Pretty sure others will join in and te tory,s will just look stupid and elitist. Oh dear.

  14. John Evans says:

    It seems to me that the unwillingness to face the public is a sign of weakness and incapacity to think clearly on one’s feet, to debate issues. I think Mrs May may rue the day that she said “No debates”….

  15. Tracey Hird says:

    Surely number 10 doesn’t have the power to dictate what goes on the TV or not? What happened to freedom of the press? Just hold the debates and let her choose to turn up or not.

  16. H Statton says:

    May is going to chicken out of a would-be television debate. A few people out there will be crying for her to be given the “empty chair” treatment and right enough, I agree.

    May thinks nothing of prostituting herself to Trump and Erdogan, and flogging missiles to Saudi, but facing questions of national interest from opposition leaders in front of the British public is clearly a step too far.

    I mean who wants to hear our Prime Minister talk about matters of state, our country, and how it can be improved; who wants to know, what are the real ramifications for post-Brexit Britain? What matters more, a blue passport or the single market?

    If you voted Brexit but didn’t want to cause problems for the NHS, education, pensioners, disabled people, environment, infrastructure… or increase the cost of living, child poverty, homelessness, unemployment… why did you vote Brexit?

    It is in the interests of all to hear what our PM has to say. I am infuriated to hear May imperiously suggest we are “coming together”; it stinks of Hubris. This is the ‘Divided Kingdom’.

    May’s circles within circles, is the reason that some journos were caught on the hop this morning. Why trust someone who eulogises the Remain campaign then post EU referendum pushes for a hard Brexit? Why trust someone who repeatedly says there will be no general election pre 2020 then calls for a snap election? There is a message in here for all of us.

    And if you are 18-24 please think seriously before you decide not to vote. Find out what’s going on in political circles (no condescension intended) because this Government will not bother courting you. To restate the claims of its glorious leader, ‘it [Gov] does what it likes, and it likes what it does.’

  17. Chris Mears says:

    In response to this news, I have started a petition.
    If she’s confident in her record, Theresa May should face the music in TV debates like her predecessors.

  18. Rupert Read says:

    Gary this is rather an anaemic blogpost. For the question is: are you broadcasters going to take May’s pitiful chicken-act lying down, or not? Sturgeon, Wood and Lucas have all already called for full debates anyway. The question is: will you answer their call, and stand up for democracy thereby, or simply humbly do the PM’s bidding?

  19. Turboblocke says:

    Tory manifesto: Tory is Tory.

    Well it’s worked so far for Brexit hasn’t it?

  20. fiona johnston says:

    Our dear leader in many ways resembles a mediaeval monarch – she doesn’t tolerate anyone or anything that contradicts her world view such as the role of opposition in a democracy

  21. Nick says:

    Why not have a debate anyway and invite all parties you want and if they don’t show then they lose out

  22. Eva Skrenta says:

    No debates? No press conferences or extended reviews? Theresa May seems as if she is more of a coward than Donald Trump. Hm. I thought I had it really bad. I guess it could be worse.

  23. Pat Sheerin says:

    She’d be ripped apart without a script. She’s hollow and she knows it.

  24. Alex says:

    Why does she get to decide if there will be debates? If she’s too gutless to face her opponents you (Channel 4) and the other broadcasters should ’empty chair’ her.

  25. Graham Lester George says:

    I propose that Channel 4 invite all the leaders to debate the issues live, and “empty chair” those who decline.

  26. catherine martin says:

    This snap election is for HER , not the people of great britain ,she has bungled things up , a vote of no confidence,, would suffice, She has lied and can’t be trusted , we are in enough trouble with this makeshift government, its time for a change,.
    Lets givee Mr Corbyn a chance to repair what the tories have done to us ,over the years, we deserve it

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