The leaders of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties will all be taking part in online debates in the run up to this year’s general election. Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will answer questions asked by the public, with their answers broadcast on YouTube and Facebook.
The debates further legitimise the internet as a valid place for thoughtful and informative political discussion.
Facebook and YouTube users can post questions in either text or video format under the categories of economy, health and education, law and order, foreign policy and miscellaneous. The public vote on the most popular questions, which are then presented to the party leaders. The politicians have pledged to respond ten days before the end of the election.
Google’s Director of Communications Peter Barron said: “Although the televised debates will be a historic first, we feel that that there is an opportunity for a different type of platform that allows voters to be in charge of the questions.
“By collaborating with Facebook to put together one initiative we hope to enable as many voters as possible from across the UK to take part.”
Facebook’s Director of Policy Richard Allan also praised the potential of digital debates: “The dawn of the digital election this year is a transformative moment for democracy in Britain. By allowing voters to cross-examine their leaders, these digital debates will put the voters firmly in charge.
“This marks a decisive shift away from the constraints of top-down traditional media and will take full advantage of unique scale and reach of Facebook, thus changing the way that politicians campaign for good.”
It’s a shame that the responses and questions wont be delivered live; I always enjoy watching politicians writhing uncomfortably when they get stumped by a pointed enquiry. Perhaps they should have broadcast it over Chat Roulette instead? That said, there is already literally too many cocks on THAT site; we don’t need David Cameron on there too.