An online petition supporting the Sky News Leaders’ Debate campaign has gone live.
Sky News is pushing for the creation of an Independent Debates Commission (IDC) to oversee and organise the debates.
It’s a move backed by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats, including Vince Cable and Jeremy Corbyn.
Under the Sky News proposal, the IDC would set the format and the rules for the debate as well as outline the criteria for political party participation.
It would also steer negotiations between broadcasters and parties and ensure the audiences are objective.
The shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey is the latest senior MP to support the campaign.
She told Sky News: “Many of our members would agree that certain outlets would favour one particular party or another, so it’s important to make sure these leadership debates are fair and it’s a good opportunity for people across Britain to hear about the policies of a particular party without the spin, without the rhetoric.”
With Labour pressing the government to call a general election, many party members are backing the idea.
One member at the Labour Conference said: ‘I think it’s something that should really be sorted. We’ve had people arguing about it for the last two elections.”
Another added: “It’s healthy politicians have a platform to challenge each others’ ideas in front of a wider public.”
An online petition has been set up so voters can support the campaign.
It’s calling for a change in election law to make party leaders take part in a televised debate.
And it’s proposing the establishment of an IDC to take the running of debates away from politicians and broadcasters.
With enough signatures the petition will be considered for debate in parliament.
The first televised leaders’ debate took place in 2010.
But they’ve not happened since, despite two further general elections taking place.
Sky News has written to all the main parties asking for support.
Editor-at-large Adam Boulton said: “I think there is real enthusiasm behind the debate. I think the danger is complacency, yes of course they should happen, people think why wouldn’t they happen.
“There’s no doubt the Labour Party would love to see Jeremy Corbyn up against the leader of the Conservative party. With newspaper headlines saying we could have a general election this autumn, there really is no time to lose.
“It does need a wave of public support to convince the politicians to take the next step.”