Should there be a Labour leadership televised debate?
David Miliband thinks there should be; according to reports on LabourList he has written to the other candidates saying there should be. However, I for one cannot see the reason why there should be; of course, there is the superficial appeal of bringing the contest to a wider audience but something tells me that would not be the case. I hardly expect there to be mass interest in the Labour leadership contest like there was the one to be Prime Minister. The Prime Ministerial debates took place in a time of heightened political awareness when people were more likely to be interested due to the General Election campaign whereas these debates would most likely take place at the height of interest in the World Cup, not politics.
Given that I feel that these debates are more likely to annoy than interest. A question exists over whether it is right that an internal matter be aired quite so publically, while I support the opening up of the leadership election to new members and recruiting people on that basis I do not think that means logically things should go as far as a debate on national television. Furthermore, I think it may be hard to interest a network in actually broadcasting these debates.
Miliband is fundamentally mistake about what a leadership contest is as shown by this part of his letter:
“This leadership election must be a credit to the Labour party. It should also be our chance to re-engage the public so we can both understand why we lost but also to show how we will win back their trust. Therefore we should use every opportunity to engage the widest possible audience. The TV debate fired up interest in the election – and could be an excellent way to re-engage people with Labour.”
A leadership election is not about re-engaging with the public at all; it is about a party choosing its own direction, having a full and frank dialogue primarily with itself; in front of the public yes, but not nakedly so. We do not have a presidential system in this country and that is something Miliband needs to remember. A TV debate would add nothing to the contest so it should be rejected by the other candidates.