Petition launched for leaders’ TV debates

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An online petition supporting the Sky News Leaders’ Debate campaign has gone live.

Sky News is pushing for the creation of an Independent Leaders’ Debates Commission (LDC) to oversee and organise the debates.

It’s a move backed by Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, including Vince Cable and Jeremy Corbyn.

Under the Sky News proposal, the LDC would set the format and the rules for the debate as well as outline the criteria for political party participation.

It would also steer negotiations between broadcasters and parties and ensure the audiences are objective.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell is the latest senior MP to support the campaign.

He said: “I support it. I’ll support the petition and I’ll sign. It’s exactly what we need.

“No leader should be afraid of debates, it happens in other countries.

“I don’t know why Theresa May ran from it last time, it should definitely happen.”

There have been fresh backing for Sky News' Make Debates Happen campaign from both Conservative MP Nicky Morgan and Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey. 1:09
Video: Leaders’ TV debates ‘here to stay’

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey is also supporting Sky News’ campaign.

She told Sky News: “Many of our members would agree that certain outlets would favour one particular party or another, so it’s important to make sure these leadership debates are fair and it’s a good opportunity for people across Britain to hear about the policies of a particular party without the spin, without the rhetoric.”

With Labour pressing the government to call a general election, many party members are backing the idea.

One member at the Labour Conference said: “I think it’s something that should really be sorted. We’ve had people arguing about it for the last two elections.”

Another added: “It’s healthy politicians have a platform to challenge each others’ ideas in front of a wider public.”

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Video: The Pledge: Should there be TV debates before a general election?

Conservatives, including former home secretary Amber Rudd and former equalities minister Nicky Morgan, have also supported the campaign.

An online petition has been set up by Sky News so voters can support the campaign.

It is calling for a change in election law to make party leaders take part in a televised debate.

And it is proposing the establishment of an LDC to take the running of debates away from politicians and broadcasters.

The transport secretary has announced a "sweeping" review designed to transform Britain's railways. 0:53
Video: TV debate commission is an idea that ‘needs to be discussed’

With enough signatures the petition will be considered for debate in parliament.

The first televised leaders’ debate took place in 2010.

But they have not happened since, despite two further general elections taking place.

Journalist Ian Hislop has backed the idea of an independent commission to oversee Leaders' Debates in a general election. 0:29
Video: Hislop backs Leaders’ Debates Commission

Sky News has written to all the main parties asking for support.

Editor-at-large Adam Boulton said: “I think there is real enthusiasm behind the debate. I think the danger is complacency, yes of course they should happen, people think why wouldn’t they happen.

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“There’s no doubt the Labour Party would love to see Jeremy Corbyn up against the leader of the Conservative party. With newspaper headlines saying we could have a general election this autumn, there really is no time to lose.

“It does need a wave of public support to convince the politicians to take the next step.”

From – SkyNews

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