Why we’re calling on Boris Johnson to take part in the TV debates

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director, ERS Scotland and Campaigns

Posted on the 26th June 2019

In our fragile democracy, we need all the opportunities possible to hold public figures to account.

So it’s all the more galling when one of those opportunities is stripped away. Now a broadcaster (Sky) has been forced to cancel its debate between the candidates for who’ll become our next Prime Minister – due to Boris Johnson’s refusal to take part.

Since the Conservative leadership candidates have ruled out a general election, it is even more vital that voters know what they stand for and have the chance to grill them.

That’s why we’ve launched a new petition calling on Boris Johnson not to ‘dodge the debates’ and give public the chance to see both candidates debate their records on live TV.

Candidates should be open to full scrutiny in front of all the public – not just a handful of party members. Sign and share our petition.

This election will choose the UK’s next Prime Minister – so this really matters. The fact that the electorate for this contest is restricted to just 160,000 Conservative Party members means the need for full and proper public scrutiny is even more vital.

The public might not to directly get to decide the winner but everyone deserves the chance to see the candidates stand up for their policies, set out their vision for the country and face the tough questions that every Prime Minister will need to answer. And we need to know what they say when they address all voters, rather than their party activists.

Everyone deserves the chance to see the candidates stand up for their policies, set out their vision for the country and face the tough questions that every Prime Minister will need to answer. Click To Tweet

But by appearing to hide from scrutiny, Boris Johnson is denying us all a vital democratic opportunity.

Sign and share our petition for both leadership candidates to take part in a televised debate.

A poll for the Electoral Reform Society during the 2017 election found 56% of voters, rising to 71% among 18-24 year-olds, back TV election debates, which have been a feature of election campaigns since 2010.

Over a third of viewers said the 2017 Question Time election special influenced their vote. On a UK-wide level, that would amount to 1.4m voters. And more than 80 percent of viewers said they talked about the Question Time special with their friends and family, while 40 percent saying the programme made them more interested in the campaign.

There’s just a week before the next TV debate is scheduled – meaning we need as much pressure as possible now to urge both candidates to take part. 

There’s no excuse for hiding from scrutiny. Let’s stand up for open and transparent debates.

Sign our petition demanding both candidates take part in the TV head-to-heads

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