Leaders’ debates should be enshrined in law

Christian Weaver

Christian Weaver

The absence of a head-to-head, proper interactive debate between David Cameron and Ed Miliband is an affront to the British electorate who, on the whole, would have wished to see both party leaders question and address each other on matters affecting our everyday lives.

Some people might feel that the interviews both leaders had with Jeremy Paxman separately on March 26 were sufficient. I don’t.

Cameron should have agreed to this debate, as well as the recent ‘Seven Leaders’ debate right from the beginning. He has been ‘playing politics’ with this issue at a time when the general public is frankly sick of politicians and increasingly cynical of the political process. Continue reading

Re-defining defence spending in the light of recent debates in the UK

Whilst a significant part of any government’s role is foreign policy (or international relations) it rarely figures highly in the build up to a general election. Domestic issues trump the international in the eyes of both the electorate and politicians. This is why recent coverage of statements from the likes of former Defence Minister Dr Liam Fox and the US Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno is of particular interest and frustration. Not only is it unusual for foreign affairs to gain traction within an election saturated media cycle, it is also unusual for international figures to chime in on UK domestic affairs. Continue reading

Reform of zero hours contracts could be a defining point of election campaign

Peter McTigueSince writing my last piece for the NTU election blog, the issue of zero hours contracts has featured heavily in the media. In last week’s leader’s debate on Channel 4 David Cameron admitted that he could not work under a zero hours contract and it is clear that the Labour Party are keen to attack on this issue as they believe it exposes weaknesses in Conservative arguments about the strength of the current economic recovery.

At a campaign event in Yorkshire later today, Ed Miliband will say that a future Labour government would guarantee zero hours workers the right to a regular contract after 12 weeks. While further details are yet to be released, this is a key policy pledge by the Labour Party and one that has been welcomed by Trade Unions. Continue reading

Political Storytelling and the Land of Make-Believe

Political storytelling

Dr Kevin J. Hunt is a senior lecturer in Visual Culture

Politicians talk a lot. Communicating clear ideas and workable policies to voters is key to winning an election and an inevitable part of political rhetoric relies upon telling stories. Representing a policy through a narrative description is a way of personalising an issue and perhaps helping a potential voter relate to an idea that might otherwise appear abstract. This is why politicians often recount how they met someone ‘just the other day’ who is due to benefit from their party’s policies and why, in live events, the candidates try to remember the names of audience members to indicate they are listening and responding to a specific situation affecting a real person. The aim is to show that a vote for that particular party will deliver a happier ending than any of the alternatives on offer. In other words, politicians work hard to construct narratives that they hope the electorate will believe in, repeat to other people, and vote for. Continue reading

David Cameron and the TV election debates – latest

Dr Matthew AshtonDr Matthew Ashton – politics and media expert in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Social Sciences – has provided an update on the David Cameron TV election debates latest.

He said: “David Cameron may be under pressure today, but shows no real signs of blinking in terms of the broadcasters’ original proposals. His team seems to have made the decision that he can ride out the current furore and that Labour won’t be able to keep the pot boiling on this issue forever. To cave now in any significant way would make him look even weaker.

“They’re hoping that the debate involving multiple leaders will turn into a farcical circus, allowing him to duck the big issues and avoid Labour and UKIP making an easy hit. If he avoids the debates altogether then he could try to look statesman-like, while the other leaders squabble amongst themselves on TV. If he does agree to the proposed digital debate, it will be in the likely knowledge that the viewing figures are likely to be much smaller than they would be on the BBC or ITV.”

David Cameron and the televised election debates

Dr Matthew AshtonHere’s what Dr Matthew Ashton, an expert in politics and the media at Nottingham Trent University, feels about David Cameron’s handling of the TV election debates.

“The handling of the TV debates has been a perfect lesson in how not to manage the media. Cameron’s inability to commit, along with his constant shifting of the goal-posts has just served to alienate the major broadcasters and exasperate the public.

“Cameron would have been better advised to have refused the idea of debates either late last year, or in early 2015. While this would have run the risk of having him followed everywhere for a couple of weeks by a giant chicken, it might have been better in the short-term than this torturous process and demand and counter-demand.

“He’s also been haunted by his statements from 2010 about the importance of debates to the democratic process. Nothing significant has changed between then and now apart from the fact that he perceived the debates to be electorally advantageous to him then, but not now. What he really seems to fear is some new version of Cleggmania (Mili-mania) where Miliband reveals hitherto unexpected reserves of charisma and verbal dexterity.”