March 6, 2015 9.32 am This story is over 106 months old

The debate debate: Who’s running scared?

Debating debates: Kamran Hussain argues constituents should have the opportunity to question all parliamentary candidates in the run up to the General Election.

An exciting, modern way of politics and proper engagement with voters is just in touching distance from us, but it seems that the Prime Minister is unwilling to battle it out in a televised debate.

A bold statement released from 10 Downing Street this week suggested that if any debate does happen it would be on their terms and not the broadcasters. It’s understood that the PM will only agree to a single seven-way debate and has ruled out a head-to-head debate with the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband.

It’s rather strange that the PM who openly advocated for these kinds of debates is now ducking them. The PM also refused to appear on #LeadersLive organised by Bite the Ballot as all other main party leaders attended.

We also have a similar situation here in Lincoln with the current Conservative marginal MP, Karl McCartney reportedly refusing to attend the historic Lincoln Live debate on May 4 organised by the Lincolnite and other local media outlets alongside all other parliamentary candidates.

Similarly, Lincoln’s UKIP PPC, Nick Smith has declined an offer from the Students Unions’ to appear at a hustings on April 13.

Debates are healthy for democracy and allow the electorate to question those that wish to represent them. This is a chance for the electorate to see how those who want to represent them fair under pressure when questioned by constituents on serious issues that impact their daily lives.

These types of debates not only allow prospective candidates to demonstrate their will, but are also an opportunity for incumbents to defend their record in office. You can find your MPs voting record online here.

Lincoln is a bellwether seat and also a marginal seat, in fact it has been described a key battle ground between the Tories and Labour by many leading political commentators. The great people of Lincoln want to hear what the candidates have to offer through the form of a civilised live debate.

Of course a live debate shouldn’t be the sole basis for one to decide who to vote for, but it’s a very good opportunity for people to see which candidate is up to the job of representing Lincoln.

Many politicians now take to social media and in particular Twitter to ‘connect’ with the electorate; how effective they actually are in their communications is a different matter. However, social media has become quite a force and the electorate should follow the online activities of candidates and try to gain an insight into their mind-sets.

The discussion around the debates will no doubt continue right up to the date. It’s the duty of the organisers of these debates to ensure they are conducted fairly, but it’s the PPC’s who have to turn up, take their seat and answer direction questions, which may decide their fate.

Kamran is a third-year Journalism and Public Relations student at the University of Lincoln. He is working to specialise in media relations and political communication. Kamran is currently writing his dissertation looking at the image of Public Relations in political communication.