After just announcing she’s calling for a snap general election, Prime Minister Theresa May has told the BBC that she will not be taking part in live TV debates ahead of it.
Speaking to Radio 4’s Today, she said that she prefers to “get out and meet voters”. She said, “I believe in campaigns where politicians actually get out and about and meet with voters.
“That’s what I have always believed in, it’s what I still believe and I still do it – as prime minister, as a constituency MP, I still go out and knock on doors in my constituency. That’s what I believe in doing, that’s what I’m going to be doing around this campaign.”
But the move has caused waves in the world of politics, with many criticising the PM for avoiding a face off with her competitors. Live TV debates have been a constant of general elections for seven years now, first beginning in 2010, and being repeated again in 2015 when David Cameron was re-elected.
Although David Cameron didn’t take part in the five party leaders’ TV debate in 2015, you’ll probably remember the fierce (and cutting) debate between the former Conservative leader and Ed Balls, who faced off just before the last general election vote was held.
(Leaders of Britains political parties taking part in a TV debate in 2015)
Leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn certainly hasn’t minced his words in his reaction to the move from Theresa. He’s maintained that she is “dodging” a head-to-head showdown with him, adding that he thought her decision was “rather strange”.
Corbyn went on to say, “I say to Theresa May, who said this election was about leadership, come on and show some.’
“Let’s have the debates. It’s what democracy needs and what the British people deserve.”
The Liberal Democrats have also stated that she should be ‘empty-chaired’ (the practise of drawing attention to political leaders refusal to show up, to you and me). Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron also added, “The prime minister’s attempt to dodge scrutiny shows how she holds the public in contempt.
“The British people deserve to see their potential leaders talking about the future of our country.”
Typically, political debates for general elections take place on the BBC, with many famously held by renowned Question Time host David Dimbleby.
But even David admitted that refraining from appearing in TV debates could be bad for the PM ahead of a general election. He said that not facing up to her political rivals for the nation to see could be “rather perilous.”
Dimbleby went on to add, “I don’t think other parties will refuse to take part in debates, and I wonder whether Number 10 will stick with that, because it may look a bit odd if other parties are facing audiences and making their case.”