11 Feb 2010

What will a short election campaign mean for TV debates?

I hear the team around Gordon Brown has closed the door on any idea of a John Major-style long election campaign.

Mr Major went for a six-week campaign in 1997 hoping it would see Tony Blair exposed under the relentless scrutiny of the campaign.

It didn’t work for him, but more importantly Labour’s team feels that the public is not in a place where it wants to listen to its politicians for a moment longer than it has to.

Second major consideration, when you call the election the government is instantly diminished… you may still be PM but you are also candidate for PM and equal coverage rules apply.

What actual start dates etc this all means is not settled, even if the end-date of 6 May is.

If you go close to the statutory minimum, you have a late March Budget, signal an election date before or just after the Easter weekend, then don’t have formal full-on campaigning until the week beginning 12 April.

That could throw the ITV/BBC/Sky leaders’ debates into some confusion because I am told that the current draft memorandum of understanding the parties and broadcasters are working off assumes a week’s grace after the election date is announced before the first debate and a week between the last debate and the election itself.

You could end up, in a very short campaign, having to junk the idea of one debate a week (favourite current dates are Thursdays – I am told) and squeeze two in one week. Not what was meant to happen.

The parties hope to sign off on that memorandum very soon and how much it nails down the rules on debate dates could be our best clue on the campaign timing.

Tweets by @garygibbonblog

7 reader comments

  1. adrian clarke says:

    Lets face it Brown will wait till the last minute to give as little time as possible to have his non policies scrutinised.He will spend more time attacking tory policies for there is no way he can defend his running of the country as prime minister or of the finances as chancellor

  2. Ray Turner says:

    Ha ha ha. A short campaign. Ha Ha Ha. It has been running for at least the last 12 months.

    The problem is that the looming election distracts from the real issues of Government. It happens towards the end of every Government and gets progressively worse the longer the Dictator/President/PM (whatever you want to call him/her) tries to hang on to the keys to 10 Downing Street…

    There’s got to be a better way of doing it, ideally removing the opportunity to set the date to maximise advantage to the current Government.

    The system in the USA is not without fault, it seems to last a whole year, but at least the dates are set in stone and we all know exactly when it is going to happen…

    1. Kes says:

      This is a very sensible idea, so will not feature as part of Brown’s reform package.

  3. Steve Willis says:

    Am I alone in not wanting TV debates by our inglorious leaders?

    I’d rather go along and throw things :-)

  4. margaret BrandrethJones says:

    Gordon Browns emotional display does him justice.

    For years just competing for a low level job in my profession.. the text has been “break her” If this human display is breaking a person then carry on and let all the nastiness continue.I love love.

    Not one politician for years has ever been able to make it, that is why they are voted out. Why are there so many perfect general public citizens just sitting out there when we could have them as top politicans?

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Gordons emotional display was an attempt to do a Blair ,but he hasnt the temperament or charisma to succeed .Unfortunately love does not succeed in the corridors of power .You need deceipt lies and a deep sense of “i am perfect” That is why us decent citizens are not up to the job.As for getting kicked out , along comes another more devious deceitful person

  5. Beverly says:

    It seems completely wrong to me that the date of a national election is in the hands of one person. Not much integrity in waiting to the very last minute – from a man who has not been elected to post?
    I would like to see a fixed term in the future. We have been treated like fools.

Comments are closed.