A series of YouTube debates will see the party leaders grilled by a panel of 16-24 year olds—how will they cope?by Josh Lowe / December 8, 2014 / Leave a comment
Last Monday, Ukip leader Nigel Farage found himself drawn onto unfamiliar ground. Under a barage of questioning, he ended up making a gaffe about the age at which his party believes sex education in schools should begin, apparently advocating sex education for children younger than 11—the age at which Ukip’s official policy says such classes should begin. It was picked up by several newspapers: “Nigel Farage confused over Ukip’s sex education policy,” screamed one unfavourable headline.
Who was the interviewer? Had Paxo returned from his hiatus? Was Jon Snow going off on one of his crusades? Neither grey-haired champion of the old guard was responsible. The questioner was 22-year-old Hannah Witton, who produces video blogs about sex and relationships and has over 17,000 followers on Twitter. The battleground was “Leaders Live,” a series of debates with the leaders of the main parties streamed live on YouTube and featuring questions asked by an audience of 16-24 year olds.
Tonight, Leaders Live will host Labour leader Ed Miliband: you can watch his debate below from 5.30pm. Miliband will face questions fired at him via YouTube or Twitter on three topics of his choice—jobs, health and democracy—and one chosen by voters via an online poll—immigration, likely to be a less favourable option for Labour HQ. As with the other debates, questions will be directed to, and delivered by, a studio audience of young people chosen for their strong social media presence.
Watch Ed Miliband grilled on Leaders Live from 5.30:
Leaders live is organised by Bite the Ballot, a charity which seeks to get more young people registered to vote—and actually voting. Oliver Sidorczuk, their policy coordinator, tells me that the idea was inspired by the way some public figures, from celebrities like Will.i.am to US President Barack Obama, have used Google Hangouts to communicate with their audiences and fans. The intention, he says, is to highlight differences between parties’ policies in a way that is accessible to those who have stepped back from mainstream politics. “As opposed to your instinct of spoling your ballot paper, this is meant to say to the critics who dismiss politicians as a grey mass: ‘they are different,’”…