Having firmly crossed the 100 days to go mark, all eyes have turned to the various party leaders in order to see what their plans for the future of the nation are. All broadcasters have in place plans to give the electorate a chance to get to know the leaders a little better, but Sky are kicking off proceedings with their own effort in the shape of Stand Up Be Counted: Ask The Leaders.
Stand Up Be Counted (SUBC) is Sky News' initiative to give young people a voice in the upcoming general election, offering a platform where they can voice their concerns, debate, share ideas and ask questions of the leaders. It's that last use which is the focus of today's effort, which aims to produce a series of question and answer sessions with the leaders of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, currently broadcasting live on Sky News and on Facebook, following requests via the phone number for Sky.
So far today, we've seen an interview session with Labour leader Ed Miliband, where he attacked the CEO of Boots for claiming a Labour government would be a 'catastrophe'. In his interview, he said he didn't think the electorate would enjoy being lectured at by a man who avoids paying taxes for his business.
Interviews will take up the largest part of the day but there will be other features, like special guests, expert commentary and live analysis of the conversations as they unfold. Interestingly, the Conservative party and UKIP have declined to come on the programme to discuss their issues, though the reasons for that are currently unknown. The debate is also taking place online, with Twitter and Facebook users using the hashtag #AskTheLeaders.
On the ongoing broadcast Director of Newsgathering at Sky News, Mr Jonathan Levy, stated: “This is a perfect opportunity for young people to hold the party leaders to account and ask the questions they care about. It’s also a ground-breaking way for us to harness the combined power of Sky News’ multiple platforms and Facebook to reach as wide and diverse an audience as possible.”.
The debates are in conjunction with Facebook, who are handling many of the live commentary for the series and hosting their own mini Q&A sessions. Elizabeth Linder, Facebook's Politics and Government specialist had this to say: “Last year, political issues were the most discussed topics on Facebook in the UK. Whether it was Scottish Referendum, the European Parliamentary Elections or the Rochester and Strood by-election, millions of people from all walks of life turned to Facebook to share their views. As we enter the final 100 days of the campaign, election-related discussion on Facebook is heating up. Candidates are already making their pitch, voters are discussing the issues they care about and everyone is being encouraged to go out and vote. We hope that the party leaders will use the Ask The Leaders event to join in these conversations, answer the public’s questions and connect directly with the young people impacted by the decisions they make."
Early indications via online sources and the Sky customer service free number are extremely positive, and Sky will be hoping that these debates can become an election tradition, helping to engage younger voters using mediums they understand and trust. You can see the broadcast below.
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