Sunday 25th April 2010 | 14:19
Labour releases draft of letter to broadcasters calling for policy focus
Yesterday the Tories and Lib Dems were asked by the Labour Party campaign
about their views on sending a letter to the national broadcasters on the
need for more policy scrutiny and discussion in the election campaign.
Initially both seemed to agree with the principle of this and yet today
have briefed journalists that they don't.
Labour Party spokesperson said:
We believe that the Leadership debates are good thing and an important
part of the General Election but we do believe that an unintended
consequence of the attention they get has been a lack of policy scrutiny
and discussion that was normal in previous election coverage.
We think the public are being short-changed by the focus on process not
policy. Yesterday both of the other main parties said this idea had merit
today they don't - that's tells you all you need to know about their
enthusiasm for a policy discussion. They are the anything but policy
There is only one conclusion you can come to given their reluctance to
have a policy based discussion and allow a policy choice at this election.
They are scared of real debate and scrutiny. We will stick to policy and
substance as we are the Party with confidence in our programme for a
future fair for all.
Full draft of suggested letter set out below:
To: BBC, ITV, Channel Four,
If there is one thing which all parties can agree on it’s that the
televised leaders' debates have been a welcome development which has given
a real sense of energy and excitement to the election campaign.
However, as we reach the final stages of the campaign we also share a
common belief that the focus on the debates, both the process surrounding
them, and the polling before and after which they have attracted, has
dramatically reduced the amount of airtime dedicated to the scrutiny of
the policies of the parties. This is particularly so in the case of the
main bulletins which remain the main source of news for many people.
We feel that whilst our manifestos were fully, fairly and properly
covered, since then the usual specialist examination of specific policy
areas has not been done.
We are writing to broadcasting organisations with a public service remit
to ask you all to ensure that during the last ten days of the campaign
your programmes analyse our policy proposals to the same level of detail
as at previous election campaigns.
If the public are not exposed to the different policy details and
arguments which we are presenting we are concerned that you will not be
fulfilling your traditional duty of explaining and probing the plans of
all the main parties. If the public don’t hear the arguments we believe
that, despite the impact of the debates, many will still be in the dark as
to the differences between our plans and values.
We are copying this letter to Sky News.