The ongoing saga of the televised leaders’ debates took an interesting turn with Sky and Facebook announcing this week that they would launch an interactive imitative aimed at young people, with leaders of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens all taking part. Conservative leader David Cameron has yet again to provide a definitive answer as to whether he will be involved in the debates.
Stand Up Be Counted (SUBC) on 2 February promises young people the opportunity to ‘speak out, share ideas and be heard’ and will be run in partnership with Facebook to give viewers the chance to grill the political leaders. This will involve a day of live Q&As, including interviews with the leaders, that will be shown live on Sky News and online at the SUBC and Sky News Facebook pages.
Sixty young people will make up the studio audience, as well as an online following of potentially millions. Viewers will be able to get involved via the SUBC and Sky News Facebook pages using the hashtag #AskTheLeaders. At the time of writing, questions posed to the leaders using the Twitter hashtag include ‘Ed Miliband. Is the moon really made of cheese?’ (@BrianCrooks1) and ‘can you find me a better route to work than the M56?’ (@jmorris1972).
After the interviews have aired on TV the questions to the leaders will continue via a dedicated Facebook Q&A for a further 15 minutes . Each interview will be followed by live analysis fronted by Sky News presenter, Jayne Secker.
“This is a perfect opportunity for young people to hold the party leaders to account and ask the questions they care about,” commented Sky’s director of newsgathering, Jonathan Levy. “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.”
Facebook’s politics and government specialist for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, Elizabeth Linder, commented: “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.”