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Will televised debates affect the election?

The next general election could see party leaders battle on television for the first time. How will this affect politics in the UK?

The BBC, ITV and BSkyB put forward a joint proposal to stage three live election debates between leaders of the three main political parties.

Tory leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg have welcomed a TV debate, while Gordon Brown has said he was willing "in principle" to take part.

The SNP have announced they may take legal action if Alex Salmond is not allowed to take part in the debate.

What impact will the televised debates have on politics? Will you change your vote according to what you see on the TV?

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Published: Saturday, 3 October, 2009, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK

All comments as they come in

Added: Tuesday, 6 October, 2009, 07:19 GMT 08:19 UK

Such debates have taken place in France for the past ten years.
But there are so many stringent regulations (e.g. speaking time calculated down to the second) that they are anything but spontaneous.
The latest debate, between Sarkozy and Royale, was even boring and it turned it off half way through.
Apart from being a supposedly big show, those debates do not bring anything and certainly do not answer any questions.

alain hernu, andresy france

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Added: Tuesday, 6 October, 2009, 07:02 GMT 08:02 UK

This debate must be restricted to the Tory, Labour and Lib Dems because they have candidated standing for the post of Prime Minister. To bring in all the other leaders of minority groups would pose a logistical nightmare and prove impossible to mount.

[BGarvie], Reading

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Added: Tuesday, 6 October, 2009, 07:02 GMT 08:02 UK

“Television! The drug of a nation. Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation,.. ..Apathetic, therapeutic and extremely addictive”
-disposable heroes of hiphoprisy
“Let us all bask in television's warm glowing warming glow.”
-Homer Simpson.
'course these debates will affect the election.It will CONsolidate what we already have and therefore legitimise a rotten system by getting you to "think" there is a point to voting. You can fool some/all of the people all/some of the time. Election time!

Robert Kett, United Kingdom

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Added: Tuesday, 6 October, 2009, 05:33 GMT 06:33 UK

Emphasizing people can yield a Lincoln as well as a Hoover.

Brian, USA

That's one hell of a gamble. My subjective assessment of former American Presidents gives odds of about 33:1 in favour of getting a Hoover rather than a Lincoln. Not a convincing bet!

Tom, Exeter

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Added: Tuesday, 6 October, 2009, 02:29 GMT 03:29 UK

In principle (sorry Gordon!), good idea: adversorial debates are good for democracy & the US + most european countries have them. It is however much better suited to a '1st past the post' system with 2 main contenders (as in the US, France and more). If you invite Clegg...then why not UKIP or other marginal parties? These debates are really designed to air the policies of 'credible' candidates,i.e the 2 with a real chance of becoming the next P.M. (cynics might say this will exclude G Brown!!)

I Miletitch, near Leominster

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Added: Tuesday, 6 October, 2009, 02:19 GMT 03:19 UK

Awful idea. Personality will trump policies. Misleading soundbites will take the place of reasoned argument and facts due to time constraints. The presenter/moderator will be able to direct according to their own or their company's bias, and reactionary / populist topics will get more coverage than the important-but-boring (economics/constitution). Not to mention the problems with current electoral law requiring equal coverage for main parties (PC for Wales? SNP for Scotland? etc). Unworkable!

JBF, Durham

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Added: Tuesday, 6 October, 2009, 02:03 GMT 03:03 UK

I think David Cameron should be on television as much as possible. Just so that the voters can get a thorough understanding of what they might be voting for. The Tories have peaked far too soon to win an election next year. All we need to ensure that they don't win, is over-exposure of Cameron's polished and shiny vacuity. Clegg is a nobody - an intelligent Cameron - but, having wasted his conference, has no time to raise his profile. Brown might do a Major here, and get an unexpected win.

Andrew, Norwich

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Added: Tuesday, 6 October, 2009, 01:38 GMT 02:38 UK

Quality of the question asker will be paramount no matter who's on the panel.

[keithlkeith]

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Added: Tuesday, 6 October, 2009, 24:35 GMT 01:35 UK

The debates should only go ahead if ALL parties are allowed to take part.

Its interesting that Brown has only agreed to take part "In Principle".

That means that he won't attend, if he later forms the belief that it will be too tough for him, that is, if he doesn't get his way, in relation to content and participants.

Watch this space!

Peter, Ulverston

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Added: Monday, 5 October, 2009, 23:36 GMT 00:36 UK

Any form of Public Debate is extremely beneficial to those looking to make up their own minds.
Unfortunately, elections are mostly decided by Party-Faithfuls who really don't care about "Policy".

Flinkus, Streatham

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Added: Monday, 5 October, 2009, 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK

i think these debates will have an effect.This is due to the tv cultural change.Freeview has changed the way i watch the party conferences and the tuc conference and this is because they are sreened on the parliment channel,were they used to be on bbc2 for most of the day.I have also avoided these conferences due to the showing of them on the parliment channel.I will not change my vote and i will not vote for party`s that will not commit to scrapping nuclear weapons and not invest in space.

mr hesketh, st helens

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Added: Monday, 5 October, 2009, 23:11 GMT 00:11 UK

Yes I think it will. The Labour government needs to hammer home the positives, it's achievements. I am almost certain that Labour will lose the election but it does not have to lose badly. I feel safer at night than I have in the past, and this government has done much to improve the educational aspirations of young people. There is the minimum wage and very soon, free homecare for the elderly. The conservatives...er...I don't know...What are there policies again? Answers on a postcard.

Jason, Cambridge

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Added: Monday, 5 October, 2009, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK

I wish the TV debate focus on the following issues. I will decide according to the answers

The next govt has a poisoned chalice that Brown has facilitated

Who is prepared, and how, to face the riots, strikes, civil commotion, collapse of super surveillance as money runs out, bankruptcies, unemployment, collapse of the currency (whats left of it), the IMF conditions, flight of capital, 80% youth unemployment, collapse of the NHS, the disappearance of pensions, defeat in Afghanistan?

Mike Robinson, Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom

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Added: Monday, 5 October, 2009, 22:55 GMT 23:55 UK

the debate would go on for hours if they had a descent interviewer because non of the 3 main leaders can answer a question directly, robin day and jeremy paxman interviewng and asking the questions would of been great and all 3 leaders would squirm, i hope they do go ahead then we can record their answers for future reference - not that it would make any difference!!!!

[aquatallbloke]

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Added: Monday, 5 October, 2009, 22:46 GMT 23:46 UK

Having televised debates for individual candidates is going to cause a shift in emphasis from ideology as embodied in a party to positions as embodied in a person. Personally I would like to give the former a good try, but it really depends on preference. Emphasizing people can yield a Lincoln as well as a Hoover.

Brian, USA

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