Camera-shy May snubs TV election debate

Corbyn and Farron up for the challenge

Tonight on French television the candidates competing in the Presidential Election will appeal to the electorate for their vote.

Similarly, Donald Trump’s battles with Hillary Clinton during his march to the White House were recorded for posterity by TV broadcasters, but it seems her at home Theresa May is having none of it.

Having called a snap general election on June 8, it was pretty much accepted that the leaders of the main political parties would take part in one, if not two, televised debates.

However May has made it perfectly clear that she has absolutely no intention of agreeing to this concept – although her recent u-turn on calling an election pre-Brexit may indicate that the lady may still be for turning.

Imported from the States, the televised political debate between individuals competing for the most powerful position in their country, is inevitably a combative affair and some are more equipped than others for the television studio.

Of course Trump was used to the power and environment of the broadcasting world having been at the helm of the reality TV show The Apprentice, but although Theresa May is well versed in parliamentary procedure, she is a complete novice when it comes to being interrogated on TV.

More than 10 million people tuned in to see Gordon Brown pummelled by David Cameron in 2010 and Nick Clegg’s performance promoted him to deputy prime minister in the coalition government, which will excite Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron. However, although the public often tune in with some enthusiasm, to see the these public figures squirm, the jury is still out as to whether these shows actually affect the voting patterns..

Theresa May, a firm but quiet head girl of a woman, must sense that her skills in oratory and public speaking are not sufficiently honed to do anything but damage to her campaign should she appear alongside Corbyn.

Of course, in the opposition corner the Labour leader will be looking forward to the sort of platform that has served him well in whipping up grassroots support in his party over the last 18 months.

The public heard little from Jeremy during Brexit, with many criticising his apparent lack of comment, and with many suggesting that he has made Labour unelectable for a generation he will take a televised debate as a career saving life-raft.

Corbyn will call out the elite for their abuse of the workforce and the government for their lack of investment in the NHS, education, social services and housing and he will do it with passion and conviction.

However, given that most commentators agree that this election is really about Brexit and that May is seen as the best equipped to negotiate with Brussels, Corbyn’s imminent TV rampage it seems will count for very little.

Currently as much as 20 points ahead in the polls and having taken the gamble to call a snap election, it does make complete sense that May will take one extra punt and avoid any damage to her image that a TV debate could incur.

While she will be poked and prodded on this issue in the coming weeks, it seems Theresa May has decided that the election is for Jeremy Corbyn to try to win and not for her to lose by debating.


Next Lib Dem leader

Vince Cable
Ed Davey
Layla Moran
Wera Hobhouse
Jamie Stone
Tom Brake
Christine Jardine
Alistair Carmichael
Stephen Lloyd
Kirsty Williams

Next Conservative leader

Latest bookmaker odds
David Davis
Boris Johnson
Philip Hammond
Amber Rudd
Ruth Davidson
Damian Green
Sajid Javid
Michael Gove
Justine Greening
Dominic Raab
James Cleverly
Michael Fallon
Andrea Leadsom
Priti Patel
Tobias Ellwood
Jesse Norman
Kwasi Kwarteng
Rory Stewart
Stephen Crabb
Graham Brady

Latest free bets

Featured columns

This month's events