TV channels have a duty to 'empty-chair' Theresa May if she doesn't show up

Theresa May has refused to take part in any TV debates in the run up to the general election on June 8 2017: Screengrab

Surely TV political leaders’ debates are simply hustings at large? An opportunity to reach a huge audience. Nerve-wracking for candidates, I’m sure, but if they're sure of their ground they have a golden opportunity to defend their cause.

It does, however, depend on the TV company being scrupulously even handed in making sure that each party is represented and each candidate is given equal opportunity to have their say.

Given that, why is the PM refusing to take part? Does she doubt the above?

Patrick Wise

“Empty-chairing” May if she does not turn up to the debates is definitely the thing to do.

Another thing that needs to happen is for some community spirited soul to take out an injunction preventing those MPs currently under suspicion for election expense irregularities from putting themselves forward for election.

Steve Ford
Haydon Bridge

Any party that does not want to be included in any TV channels’ leader debates should be barred by those channels of any airtime at all if they are not prepared to put their manifesto policies under “question and scrutiny” in front of the public. TV debates are a record of the lies they tell.

Pete Cresswell
Address supplied

Having called a snap election for 8 June, Theresa May has refused to engage in television debates with other party leaders. This is nothing but political cowardice.

Nevertheless both the ITV and the BBC intend to go ahead with the debates – with an empty chair in Theresa May’s place. I suspect that she might well reconsider her decision.

But whether she sits in it or not, hers will always be an empty chair.

Sasha Simic
London N16

Opposition politicians accuse Theresa May of “running scared” because she will not engage in TV “debates”. I can’t be alone in wishing all the leaders would boycott “debates”. They shed a lot of heat but no light, and degenerate into slanging matches, especially if Nicola Sturgeon is involved.

The best test of leaders’ policies and mettle is to face individually a serious and well-prepared interviewer. The only name that comes to mind for that role is the outstanding Andrew Neil.

Jill Stephenson


Votes don’t change things

In thoughtful letters several people suggest to us all that our vote may just save the NHS, save lives, avoid Brexit, etc.

If only. My vote won’t change a single thing, because without a shadow of a doubt, a Tory MP will return in the very safe Tory seat in which I live. It’s time we realised that the only people with a smidgeon of power through their vote are the ones that live in marginal seats. I do always vote, but with a sinking feeling about the unfairness of it.

I suggest to the Labour Party that the introduction of proportional representation, plus the reforming of the House of Lords, would both be very popular and democratic pledges to include in their manifesto. Chuck in a commitment to close the gaping loopholes in the hunting ban, and they might be pleasantly surprised to see their poll ratings rise dramatically.

Penny Little

Oh joy, another general election. I have always voted but because of our antiquated system my vote has never counted for anything. Yet again the overall majority will be determined by less than 40 per cent of the vote. Yet again it's happening because of the right wingers in the Tory party. I'm told this is democracy.

Jim Alexander
Address supplied

May causing uncertainty

I was shocked and dismayed by the sudden and unwelcome announcement from the Prime Minister that we are to have an early general election. As a paying member of the Conservative Party, I wonder if my party leader has taken utter leave of her senses and with the same sense of rash overconfidence and short-sightedness to disaster is taking us over the top into the Somme.

Polls may indicate that Labour is doing poorly currently but polls can change as the date approaches, as seen in the perilously close Scottish referendum, and the EU referendum itself. The poll weighting calculus may have overcorrected since 2015 and be exaggerating Tory backing now as much as it underreported it then.

As Zac Goldsmith's fate shows, the Conservatives are likely to lose many of their 2015 gains from the Lib Dems – a party who May at a single stroke has restored from a defeated irrelevance to be re-energised as an active anti-Brexit party.

May has torn up our own mandate of support that we already had, the crucial public support won in the referendum and parliamentary support won in the Article 50 vote. We have everything to lose to reiterate a “certainty” we already had, now self-destructively lost for weeks of worry. I feel that my membership fees have been squandered on an act of gross folly and I await June with uncertainty and outright dread.

Robert Frazer

Fair taxation

John McDonnell's announcement that under a Labour government earners over £70,000 would have to pay more tax was not sensible.

Having a fair society is not the same as having an equal one. Fair means as you work harder and take on more responsibilities, you get paid more. But Labour's new policy undermines this.

If “high” earners will be taxed heavily, then this is no incentive for people to work longer hours, seek promotion or spend the time needed to gain the qualifications which are required for the highest-paid jobs. Incentives are important because they don't just benefit individuals, they benefit the whole economy and help to increase economic welfare for everyone.

I am all for a progressive and fair taxation structure, but we have to be realistic and think about what will actually work.

Lewis Chinchen

A political, not personal, position

Tim Farron had every right to remain silent on whether he considers homosexuality a sin. He has stated that he is “passionate about … equal marriage and about equal rights for LGBT people…”

This is a clear statement of his political position. I write as a gay 74-year-old, as a new member of the Lib Dems and as a lapsed but sympathetic Christian.

John Harvey

Votes for expats

Unless the Votes for Life Bill is fast-tracked through Parliament it looks as though British expats who have lived abroad for more than 15 years will remain disenfranchised. We remain UK citizens yet have no democratic rights in our country of citizenship nor in our countries of residence – in practical terms we are stateless.

The Votes for Life Bill was a pledge in the present government's manifesto with the intent that no British citizen abroad should remain disenfranchised at the next general election. That date is now 8 June and expats whose voting rights have been extinguished by the 15 year rule want to vote.

LJ Atterbury
Pila, Poland