With the Labour leadership contest now entering its final phase and Labour party members finally getting to scribble their preference. The competition, between Liz Kendall on the right of the party, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper in the middle and Jeremy Corbyn to the left remains as heated as ever. Media attention on the contest is almost without parallel, with daily articles on the subject, largely on the topic of Jeremy Corbyn, who appears to have won the support of hundreds of thousands of people previously disillusioned with politics. Now, Sky News have announced that they've won exclusive rights to broadcast the very last Labour leadership debate on the 3rd of September at 7pm, exactly one week before voting will close on the contest.
The event has been titled 'Labour's Future: The Final Debate' which is only a shade less dramatic than last years election debate named 'Cameron and Miliband Live: The Battle for Number 10'. It will be staged at the iconic Sage in Gateshead, a traditional heartland for the party, and will find candidates taking questions from a representative audience of Labour voters, supporters and party members. There will also be questions taken from social media and Sky News viewers who can pitch in via the Sky News Website.
The coverage will be fronted by Kay Burley and Adam Boulton. The first half of the 90 minute programme will focus on questions from the in studio audience, with the second half being thrown open to questioning done online. As well as deciding the questions, the audience will be able to vote on the candidate's answers in real time as Sky News debut an audience engagement tool developed alongside Microsoft called Bing Pulse. The tool will show in real time how the audience are reacting to the debate and their responses to the polled questions. This information will be relayed over the TV and all of Sky's digital platforms. For those without access to a TV, the debate will also be streamed on YouTube and across Sky News' digital platforms. There will also be a live blog with up to the minute action.
Following the debate, Kay will host extensive analysis and reaction of viewers from throughout the debate. It will be the last time the public get the chance to hear each candidate speaking before the votes are tallied, and will be an important debate for every candidate, especially those like Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper who have fallen away from the pack in recent weeks. As for Mr. Corbyn, Paddy Power have started to pay out on bets that he will win, calling it a 'done deal'. If so, it is one of the most shocking victories in history. Originally listed as a rank outsider at 100/1, he's now at 2/9 and seems odds on to win. A veteran left winger who's regularly defied his party and never compromised his morals, he would be seen as Labour returning to its morals and taking a stand.
He's been the subject of many attacks from within his own party, with the likes of Blair, Brown, Mandelson and many others calling him a danger to the party and criticising his brand of politics. This final debate will be the other candidates last chance to convince the voting public that he isn't right for the party.
John Ryley, Head of Sky News commented: “The race for the Labour leadership is far more exciting than had been expected. The Sky News debate will be the backdrop to the decisive clash between the candidates, as Labour attempts to redefine itself following the defeat of the General Election.”
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