Leaders’ debate latest- Sky tries to bounce Brown and scoop the BBC

Dramatic and hilarious developments about a leaders’ debate in the forthcoming UK general election. Sky News have broken ranks with other broadcasters to “secure a leaders debate,” their redoubtable Political Editor Adam Boulton has just told Radio 4’s Media Show. “David Cameron and Nick Clegg have agreed and there will be a podium for Gordon Brown if he chooses to occupy it.” This is a clear high stakes gamble to bounce Gordon Brown. I’d give evens that it’ll work.Would the other leaders go ahead debating with each other without Brown? Or leaders’ debates might in the end happen but not under Sky’s control. But then Sky may be expecting this all along and would be prepared to settle for a share but not control of a series of debates.

Right now, the cool move has infuriated Downing St and the other broadcasters who thought they were in joint negotiations with the parties, next meeting, Friday. Sky is accused of staging a publicity stunt. Boulton denies this gleefully. “ There is no longer a veto in electoral law over these debates. We don’t see this as breaking ranks. Others can take it live. If our slightly tough line results in a series of leaders’ debates, we don’t expect to take all of them. ( He seems to mean here, debates with the Scottish and Welsh parties. NI parties have always been separate).

Ric Bailey the BBC’s chief political adviser pointed out that it was “really easy to set up a debate with the opposition leaders. Tactically, the best way is for broadcasters to act jointly. It should not be made into a campaign for a debate.” The unfazed Boulton replied : “That’s precisely what we are prepared to do – to have a debate about the debate – and invite people to sign our Petition for a Debate.” We’re not the BBC. ( too right).
All good, (fairly) clean political fun. I hope it works, in some form.

  • Drumlins Rock

    So the War has begun, the ground has been chosen for the first battle, even if it is just a skirmish im sure it will just be the opening shots in a long campaign, just who will win, the BBC, Murdock, or others could sneak in while they squabble.

  • Chris

    Call me obtuse, but I can’t see how a channel owned by Rupert Murdoch, with a straight face, can host a political debate, for a number of reasons.

    News Corp is a known backer of David Cameron, as the next prime minister.

    Murdoch is a private media entrepreneur, with a known political agenda, in both the UK and the US. His press companies, in the nicest possible way, try to change, and influence politics – not just report it. Fox news anyone?

    Andy Coulson, Cameron’s number 1 advisor, is a personal friend of all the Murdoch boys, and is an ex employee of Rupert.

    You know, it’s obviously just a stitch up isn’t it?

    Rupert trying to be king maker in the UK, as he was with Bush in America?

  • loki

    And it’s not like Murdoch never gave any support to some bloke called Tony Blair is it? I would imagine you weren’t complaining so much about stitch-ups at that point in time were you?

  • willis

    A funny story from Edinburgh which tells at least one tale.


    Sky News’s political editor, Adam Boulton, was an unexpected guest at the Channel Five festival dinner at the Atrium restaurant. Unexpected in the sense that they didn’t have any room for Boulton and his wife, Tony Blair’s former aide Anji Hunter. Fortunately Five’s chairman and chief executive, Dawn Airey, had to leave early to go to the MacTaggart dinner, but one place still had to be found. So Airey’s long-serving PA, Janet Gain, generously gave way.