Are the debates looking less likely?

Are the debates looking less likely?

Could they fall down in a row over studio audience?

Interesting piece by David Wooding in the News of the World about rows between the parties over the formats for the planned leaders’ debates.

The big issue is about the audiences – how they should be made up and whether they should be involved in the questioning. Apparently both Cameron and Brown don’t want direct questions from the floor for fear of being ambushed. But it’s who is in the audience that is causing most problems.

Wooding writes: .“The PM wants the audience packed with almost twice as many Labour supporters as Tories, to reflect his Commons majority.

But furious Mr Cameron is insisting there should be more of his followers as he is well ahead in the polls. Broadcasters fear the wrangling could derail Britain’s first TV leaders’ debate.

An insider said last night: “We’ve had two months of talks about the format for the debates. There have been disagreements about which leader shakes hands first, where they stand on stage and how much camera time they get. But the audience has been the biggest sticking point so far.”

Who can blame the party camps? These events could be game-changing and each wants to ensure that the formats suit their flag-bearers best.

If agreement cannot be reached then there will be one mighty battle over who was to blame. If the Wooding suggestion is correct that Brown wants the audience to be split in line with the number of MPs then he’s surely onto a loser. That just sounds so unreasonable particularly as Labour got its majority last time with just 36.2% of the vote.

I can see a big public row blowing up.

  • BBC Radio 4 “The Westminster Hour” I’m off to London soon to record what has become a monthly contribution on polling.
  • Mike Smithson

    Comments are closed.