After watching the ‘Party People’ political debate on ITV1, the complex nature of assessing a televised political forum has come into a sharper focus for me as a student journalist.
A few days before at the filming, I had witnessed the three party candidates for the Liverpool Wavertree constituency discuss their policies with presenter, Rob McLoughlin, for a programme to be aired about the upcoming General Election later in the week.
Although all candidates were grilled by the TV host and each one of them struggled at times, I had particularly noticed a less than impressive performance by Labour’s Luciana Berger.
My original review reflected this, under the headline: ‘Berger crumbles in Wavertree debate’. In fairness, 'crumbles' is perhaps too melodramatic a word after seeing the debate the second time round, though I stand by the criticism that she did not perform well as I still believe her answers lacked substance.
The first take of filming was stopped by Berger and had to be re-shot at her request. The tension at the Riley’s Snooker Hall venue in Church Road North following that moment was all too apparent to me, but I realise this did not necessarily come across on the TV screen.
During the filming, Berger's unwillingness to challenge her
opponents and her unconvincing responses were more
noticeable to me than Liberal Democrat Colin Eldridge’s
misquotations, and an inability to defend his party’s taxing
policy. These factors were more evident after another look at the
In the TV screening by Granada on Thursday night, I also
became more conscious of Conservative Andrew Garnett’s
lack of substantiated comeback when challenged about
changes to his party, and proposed funding cuts by the Tories.
Following the debate, on several occasions, I requested a
comment from Berger about her performance, which at the
time felt like it must have been something of an
embarrassment for her. I also informed the candidate of what
I was going to write along those lines, but she refused to
Since publication, user-generated comments on this story have been hijacked by a series of seemingly politically-motivated correspondents with extraordinarily large axes to grind on all sides. My reporting has been variously described as a "shambles", "hopelessly biased", and "low-standard".
Personally, that's been difficult to take, but I can state sincerely now that the original story did indeed contain a political motivation of my own, though with no party bias whatsoever.
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article about thousands of students perhaps boycotting the upcoming General Election, following a survey about shockingly low voting figures predicted in the national poll, which is expected in early May.
If I have been motivated by anything in this regard, it has been trying to raise awareness about democracy among fellow students. Your vote is important and all of us should use it.
By now, anyone who saw the show will have formed their own opinions about the respective candidates, and that’s ultimately the only aspect that matters at the ballot box.
Comments on this story are no longer open to users, on the advice of my tutor. I have an important essay to write, and I can't spend the next 24 hours like the last, constantly monitoring the fury of our politics fans.
I have discovered a lot about entering into political boundaries and the challenges a journalist faces within that sphere. What I have learnt most since my story sparked its own debate is that if I were to ever enter the political arena myself, I would probably be the first to crumble.
By Louisa Collington, Website Editor
Prepare for a grilling: Colin Eldridge (left) and Andrew Garnett (right) attack Luciana Berger from both sides
Rob McLoughlin questions the candidates