Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, April 16, 2010

Televised debate in the UK

The leaders of Britain's three major parties debated each other on television in the run-up to the election in May. It was a first. It got good reviews. Of course, these candidates have an advantage over most American politicians: Question Time.

Britain's debate: lively, substantive, revealing
People overseas often lament the Americanization of their politics, but Thursday's introduction of presidential-style debates in Britain ought to put some of those complaints to rest. The first televised debate in the history of British election campaigns was lively, substantive and revealing…

The election is one of the most closely contested and important in Britain in many years -- polls suggest it could result in a hung Parliament….

[I]n Thursday's debate, Clegg [Lib Dem] broke through in ways that neither of his two rivals could. In the short-term, he will be the story of the campaign…

Brown's [Labour]… expertise showed on Thursday. He was in command of his brief through much of the debate…

The youthful Cameron [Conservative] has a more natural style on television than Brown and sought to stay positive in the face of Brown's attacks…

Clegg's performance was reminiscent of Ross Perot in the first general election debate in 1992 as he took advantage of the platform the debates offered. Throughout the night, he cast himself as the antidote to the old politics and as the candidate who represents the clearest change. His party is more centrist than the other two…

Instant polls showed Clegg the clear winner. Three-fifths of those questioned by Populous for The Times newspaper declared him the victor, compared to 22 percent for Cameron and 17 percent for Brown. A YouGov poll for the Telegraph showed that 45 percent said he won, with 41 percent calling Cameron the winner and Brown far behind with 14 percent.

There are two more debates, on consecutive Thursdays, in advance of the May 6 election...

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