Archive for the 'Leaders’ TV debates' Category


GE19’s first big TV event: A debate between 2 men whose parties between them got just 23.2% in the last UK elections

Monday, November 4th, 2019

So the argument would be between two leavers

I alway felt a bit sorry for ITV at GE2017 when the leaders’ debate it got was the one without TMay or Corbyn. Maybe because of that it has sought to push forward with its Johnson-Corbyn clash without anybody else. This means excluding Jo Swinson and Nigel Farage of the two most electorally successful parties currently in the UK.

In the May 23rd elections the Brexit Party and the LDs came away with with more than 50% of the vote between them more than double the aggregate of LAB and CON.

The argument goes that the ITV programme will be limited to just the two leaders who it is argued can become PM after December 12th.

I’d suggest that that is wrong. Unless LAB dump Corbyn they’ll be going into the general election led by a man with the worst leader ratings on record and there’s no precedent for someone with these numbers succeeding.

Given that Johnson has to get a majority to be sure of remaining PM there’s a significant chance the Tories could fall short and there are no other parties that Johnson could do a deal with. The DUP aren’t going to back him following what he agreed to on Brexit for Northern Ireland.

My guess is that part of Johnson’s agreement for the ITV debate was that it would be just him and Corbyn. If ITV concede to the pressure then Johnson would pull out.

Mike Smithson


Now Corbyn and TMay are scrapping over whether the BBC or ITV hosts the Brexit debate

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Corbyn’s position is a bit lame in the age of catch-up TV

The BBC is reporting that both Corbyn and TMay have accepted invites to take part in a Brexit debate. Only problem is that the former wants it to be on ITV while the latter prefers the BBC.

The BBC debate would take place at 8pm a week on Sunday Saturday while ITV’s would stage it an hour later at 9pm.

“Mr Corbyn claimed he preferred ITV’s bid out of “respect” for viewers who wanted to watch the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! final on ITV the same evening – 9 December. I want to watch it myself,” he said. It is understood the BBC debate programme would start at 20:00 in Birmingham, airing after Strictly Come Dancing and replacing David Attenborough’s Dynasties on BBC One.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said Mrs May had accepted this offer “because there was a view on the government’s side that the BBC would address the crux of the issue, namely the deal”.

My guess is that the real reason Corbyn wants ITV and the Tories the BBC is because LAB thinks it would be easier to widen the subject beyond Brexit. A BBC debate is more likely to stick to the detail of the deal where the Tories obviously think the PM has the edge.

Which channel is going to win? Hard to say but I think that LAB is probably more likely to budge than CON.

Mike Smithson


One thing’s for sure post GE17 – incumbent PMs won’t risk skipping the TV debates again

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

This means the debates are here to stay

After the manifesto the other big avoidable mistake of TMay’s GE2017 campaign was the refusal to take part in TV leaders’ debates which became part of the UK political scene at GE2010.

No doubt the decision by her campaign to avoid them was driven by the very comfortable position the Tories had in the polls and that they appeared to be on course for a big win.

Initially the CON leader’s decision was helped by the fact that Corbyn had not indicated that he would be taking part. The BBC said they would be going ahead even if LAB and CON were not going to be represented by their leaders.

Then on the day beforehand Corbyn announced that he would after all be participating which highlighted even more TMay’s absence.

In retrospect not taking part in what is being established as part of how General Elections now happen was a big mistake and reinforced the narrative that she was avoiding situations where she would be put on the spot.

Remember how her non-participation caused stories about her refusal to go on Woman’s Hour and other programmes to appear. The public expect leaders to come under scrutiny at election times and woe betide those who don’t accept that.

Given TMay’s GE2017 experience it is going to be a very brave incumbent prime minister who refuses next time. These will now become an even more established part of UK politics.

    My point is best made by contemplating the reverse of what happened. The future of leaders’ TV debates would have looked pretty sick if in spite of her refusal to participate Mrs May had got her whopping majority

The “audience” for these set pieces is substantially greater than those who watch the programme live on the night. Clips are broadcast on other programmes and now many get their coverage from the commentary and clips circulated on social media.

Mike Smithson


It is the trend in TMay’s YouGov “best PM” ratings that should really worry the Tories

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

The miniscule lead with YouGov that Corbyn now enjoys as “best PM” is not what should concern her party but the trend which is illustrated in my chart above.

It all peaked in the first polling after she made the brave, and in retrospect disastrous, decision in April to go for a general election three years ahead of schedule. Then she was a walloping 39% ahead.

As can be seen this has moved steadily downwards ever since and now she is behind.

    The election campaign exposed her weaknesses to such an extent that it is hard to see how she can recover.

Her attempt to avoid media scrutiny and the manner she merely repeated platitudes when pressed on key issues didn’t go down well. Not taking part in a leaders’ debate was a mistake as was avoiding programmes like Woman’s Hour.

My view is that TMay was not helped by the manner of her election as CON leader last July. If she had secured the post by going through the Tory members ballot her campaigning skills would have been enhanced and she’d have been better able to cope with the scrutiny of a general election campaign.

Andrea Leadsom pulling out after the race had been reduced to the final two in the MP ballots was bad news for her.

Her now poor leader ratings are going to be used against her even assuming that she gets through next week’s Queen’s Speech vote.

Will she survive? It is becoming less likely.

Mike Smithson


Theresa’s Tories drop to their lowest level yet on the Commons seats spread markets

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

And LAB buy level now above 200 seats

There’s been a big shake-up in the betting following the publication by the Times of YouGov’s new election model that suggests that Team Theresa could be net losers of seats a week tomorrow and not have a majority.

Latest CON seats spreads SportingIndex 365-371 Spreadex 365-371

Latest LAB spreads both SportingIndex 195-201 and Spreadex 196-202

Latest LD spreads both SportingIndex 12.5-14-5 and Spreadex 12-14.5

To put this into context. Just after the local and mayoral election earlier in the month the CON buy level was at 400 seats plus while LAB was in the 150s.

All this has happened on the day of the big all party debate which Corbyn has announced that he will be representing LAB. Mrs. May won’t be going and is sending Amber Rudd instead. Corbyn’s presence will certainly add to the occasion and the PM’s absence has become the big political story of the day.

In retrospect it looks like not going to the event might have een a serious mistake by Mrs. May. It could enhance Amber Rudd’s chances of being her successor.

Events from Cambridge are on BBC1 and start at 7.30pm.

Mike Smithson


On Betfair the chances of a CON majority edges to lowest level since election was called

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Was a 95% chance – now 84%

During tonight’s Channel 4/Sky News Corbyn/May event I monitored the Betfair overall majority market to see if there was any movement. Half a million pounds is being traded on it every day and the liquidity is there.

The answer was that there was a bit of movement but it is hard to attribute this to the programme. The question now is whether the event and the coverage of it will have any impact on voting intentions.

I thought that both Corbyn and May did OK and I was surprised that the PM was not tempted to attack the Labour leader in anyway whatsoever.

Paxman was appalling with Corbyn and his absence from regular political coverage since leaving Newsnight certainly showed. His whole line of questioning seemed to provide the peg for the LAB leader to demonstrate that he wasn’t quite as left-wing as he’s portrayed. He was much better with May.

TMay overall gave an accomplished performance and was at her weakest when trying to explain why we are having an election at all blaming everything on the Lib Dems. I am sure this might become an issue in the closing phase.

Mike Smithson


On the day of the C4/Sky News May/Corbyn event the Mail’s Quentin Letts tells TMay she’s a “glum bucket”

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Tonight at 8.30pm we have the first big set-piece with TMay and Corbyn appearing before a live studio audience on Channel 4 and Sky News.

They won’t debate directly with each other – TMay ruled that out from the beginning. But she’ll face questioning from the audience and from Jeremy Paxman.

Neither leader is particularly good under pressure of which there is likely to be a lot tonight and it’s a programme where anything can happen.

Earlier se was in Twickenham, where the Tories are facing a strong LD challenge, for what was said to have been a manifesto re-launch. Parts of the event were shown live on TV and the most newsworthy part was Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail calling TMay a “glum-bucket”. You can see it here.

Mrs. May looked far from happy with this observation from a senior journalist at a newspapers which has been one of her main backers.

Mike Smithson


Even though it is fighting fewer seats and had no MPs the BBC is favouring UKIP over the Greens in its GE2017 specials

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

This morning the BBC announced it’s lineup of General Election specials. They are listed in the table above. Surprisingly UKIP, which has 377 seats is being given an Andrew Neil interview but the Greens, with 468 candidates, are not

But unlike May, Corbyn, Farron and Sturgeon there will be no place for either the Greens or Nuttall in the Question Time Leader Specials.

Last time it will be recalled that the BBC’s Question Time Leader special was probably the most significant broadcast event of the campaign. A very knowledgeable and hostile audience had been lined up for each of them. No doubt the same will happen this time.

Overall the lineup looks fairly similar to what happened two years ago but with the Lib Dems being given a greater presence.

ANOTHER DATE FOR YOUR DIARY. We are hoping to arrange a PB Gathering in London on Friday May 26th. I'l publish the details when this is finalised.

Mike Smithson