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Election debate: live in Manchester

Melanie Mingas gets a piece of the action at Granada Studios as Manchester prepares to host the live election debate...

Published on April 15th 2010.

Election debate: live in Manchester

As the country gears up to go to the polls, the leaders of the three main parties will fight volcanic ash to come head to head in the first ever live televised debate of its kind... in Manchester.

It may seem odd to stage politics' biggest night of recent times outside London, especially as we had one of the lowest voter turn outs last time, but it was here when less than 2% of the population had the right to vote, that modern democracy was born.

It may seem odd to stage politics' biggest night of recent times outside London,but it was here that one of the foundation stones of modern democracy was laid - in tragedy.

In 1819, 60,000 people descended on Peters Fields (under the site of the Free Trade Hall, aka the Radisson Edwardian) in protest against a lack of representation. Only Newton-le-Willows returned an MP to Parliament at the time. This lack of a voice was felt acutely in the years of deep recession following the Napoleonic Wars. One opinion voiced at the time, declared that “governments, not immediately derived from and strictly accountable to the people, are usurpations and ought to be resisted and destroyed.”

An over-reaction from the magistrates resulted in the military and militia being called in and led to 15 innocent people losing their lives. Peterloo became a symbol of the struggle for democracy.

In the years following Manchester was at the heart of the fight for representation. This is the city of the Free Trade Movement, where the TUC and the Suffragettes were formed, where Clause 28 was fought fiercely. It's a city that has always believed passionately in free speech and liberty.

Whether by accident or design Brown, Cameron and Clegg, couldn't have chosen a better location for their first face-to-face televised debate in the nation's history.

Watch the election debate live on ITV1 tonight, 8.30pm-10pm.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

HBiffApril 15th 2010.

Whoa!!! 1819! Peterloo was 1819.

J E SibberingApril 15th 2010.

... so it was nearly one hundred years later that votes for women (aged over 30) was achieved, not a decade.

"armed with no other weapon..."

EditorialApril 15th 2010.

The guide's back in the room. Changes will be made. Sorry for the inaccuracies folks.

you can with a canonApril 15th 2010.

awww nice pics though Ed- lol

DescartesApril 15th 2010.

I grew up believing in democracy, as a child it made sense and I thought it worked, politicians were honest and the system just, but as an adult I find it so hard to buy into or care about. Things don't change, we're just stuck in the same stupid perpetual crapness with people I genuinely believe haven't got the first clue about what they're doing. I hate the idea of wasting my vote as I'm aware people actually did die so that I could have it but what's the point? So this year the Conservatives get in, new faces but the same lies, same corruption, no doubt more illegal wars (and the merry-go-round turns again). TV debates are a PR stunt, it's actions that'll make me believe in them, not scripted responses to questions they've most likely known for weeks.

AgricolaApril 15th 2010.

What actions Descartes? Peace on earth, and end to crime, no poverty and every child happy all the time. Major changes historically have been incremental. But we tweak this changes through change of governments. And remember positive changes happen more quickly in a democracy than in any other system of government.

DescartesApril 15th 2010.

No need to be trite Agricola. You know what I meant.<br><br>Can you honestly say that come polling day you're voting for the person you believe will make the country a better place, or just voting for the other guys cause they can't be any worse than Labour / they're the best of a bad lot and the party you want in power wouldn't win anyway.

Leigh ScottApril 15th 2010.

To be honest I think it's poor that all of the parties dont get a chance to debate this evening,as on the face of it the debate is only really happening in order to swing opinion one way or another between the 3 major parties.I might just like what the greens have to say.I probably won't- but I might.thinking about it, I might let ukip have my vote in protest.

James11364April 20th 2010.

I agree Scottee but if you import am election feature from another system that is what you get. The old system which is still in place of interviews with phone ins actually provided more substance than the beauty contest last week.

AnonymousApril 20th 2010.

First of all we are not electing a party or a government. We are electing representatives and it's worth asking would they be any good at this. It is true that if the majority of those elected MP's are elected on a a given party ticket then the leader of that party provided he or she is an MP would be invited to by the 'Crown' to form a Government. If there is no majority no one really know know what would happen. The only question is then whether anyone MP could form a government could command a majority in the House of Commons at least temporally. MP's have little to do with government. Many of the Cameroon's (the Scottish pronunciation) policies, for example, will not require parliamentary approval.
That said if a better way of looking at the potential qualities of the Party Leaders as Head of Government might be to look at their CV's. Wilki, taken cautiously, offers information to do this. Nick Clegg on that showing looks like the best Foreign Affairs Commissioner the EU will never have.
Cameroon looks a like an unsuccessful PR person (ITV and Nigel Lawson and the Tory Party at the last election, and JG Broon seems a talented committed but disorganised thinker playing at politics and management.
Incidentally I think I should add that even now, after Broons invention for Blair of the Policy Review process, individual Secretaries of State have considerable room for manoeuvre within their departments scope.

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