Guido Fawkes has already reported that Labour has today drafted a letter to news organisations calling for a renewed focus on policy as the election campaign reaches its climax.
Labour apparently asked the Tories and Lib Dems yesterday to co-sign this letter, which would then be sent to national broadcasters. The party says both the other parties initially “seemed to agree with the principle of this and yet today have briefed journalists that they don’t.”
A Labour Party spokesperson has now 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 parties.
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.”
A full draft of the suggested letter is here:
“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.”