23 October 2018   |  Last Updated 18-06-2015 01:53

      Wednesday 29, April 2015

      GENERAL ELECTION 2015: 'TV debates won't influence the result'

      THE general election television debates won’t play ‘that much of a factor’ in influencing voters, a BBC assistant editor has claimed.

      LEADERS: Ed Miliband, Leanne Wood, Natalie Bennett, Nicola Sturgeon and Nigel Farage, take part in the BBC's Opposition Leaders' debate.

      This follows on from the latest audience figures for the onscreen discussions, which revealed millions of viewers have seemingly lost interest in these debates since their inaugural appearance back in 2010.


      Ironically, when Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron initially refused to take part in these events back in January, the debates had been labelled by BBC’s director general, Tony Hall, as being ‘much more important that last time around’.


      But Ian Shoesmith, assistant editor for BBC North West News Online, has questioned their significance at this year’s election as he believes ‘half of the audience doesn’t really care’.


      “I suspect the debates have gone over most people’s heads,” said Mr Shoesmith, ahead of tomorrow evening’s final debate on BBC One, to which Mr Cameron, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour’s Ed Miliband are all set to take part in a Question Time special hosted by David Dimbleby.


      “People are now more inclined to hear what was said in the debates by reading the aftermath reports, instead of watching them.

      “Obviously five years ago, there was a great deal of novelty about the debates, and the fact that we had all of the main participants taking part was a great plus. 

      VIEWERS: See how many viewers have tuned into the debates so far.

      “But this time around, the fact that we’ve had lots of arguments about the format and who is taking part, they’ve probably lost their appeal to some voters.”


      Mr Shoesmith did, however, admit that the debates would be crucial to this election if ‘someone came across as a complete clown’.

      “Increasingly, politics is about presentation so how the leader performs is key,” Mr Shoesmith added.


      “But I still don’t think it’s a game changer, unless a leader came across as a complete idiot as it would obviously damage their campaign hugely.

      “Therefore I think as long as the leaders do okay, I wouldn’t be surprised if the debates didn't play that much of a factor in influencing the actual result come the 7 May.”

      So with just over a week to go until voters decide their nation’s political fate, have the debates really been that helpful? Here’s what the electorate thinks…

      Evidently it seems many voters are still none the wiser over who they will vote next week, as it appears there is too much going on in the debates for the audience to decide who they should vote for – the polls following ITV's Party Leaders' debate highlighted this confusion. 

      So for those who are still a bit dazed by the political jargon from the previous debate, of which the opposition leaders; Mr Miliband (Labour), Nigel Farage (UKIP), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Natalie Bennett (The Greens) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) contested against each other on BBC One, here’s a reminder of what happened on the night…

      Live Blog General Election 2015: Opposition leaders' TV debate
      Live Blog General Election 2015: Opposition leaders' TV debate

      By Liam McCallion
      (Twitter: @LiamMcCallion23)

      Related Articles
      GENERAL ELECTION 2015: 'Britain trust us on the economy'

      GENERAL ELECTION 2015: The challenges of campaigning for MP

      GENERAL ELECTION 2015: What policies could influence your vote?

      GENERAL ELECTION 2015: Do parents influence their child’s vote?

      - GENERAL ELECTION 2015: Nicola Sturgeon 'wins' ITV debate

      GENERAL ELECTION 2015: Has the coalition influenced your vote?