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Leeds academics add their voices to election debate

Leeds academics add their voices to election debate

As Britain prepares to go to the polls, Leeds academics have been adding their voices to the debate.

Former Look North presenter Judith Stamper, now Principal Teaching Fellow in Broadcast Journalism, was interviewed by both Five Live and Radio Leeds on the controversy of Gordon Brown's encounter with Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy. Earlier Judith had been Five Live's expert in Manchester to comment on the first live TV debate between the leaders. She describes the debates as "a huge addition to the political landscape. I can't imagine why we haven't had these before." 

Dr Alison Johnson in the School of English has been working with Channel 4's Dispatches to analyse the language used by the three leaders in the debates. Dr Johnson, working with three of her students, has analysed similarities and differences in the language the politicians use to convey their messages. 

Professor of Political Communications Stephen Coleman is leading a comprehensive study of the debates, along with Leeds colleague Professor Jay Blumler and colleagues from Oxford and Wolverhampton. The team has conducted five national surveys, a media content analysis and a study examining how the debates have been discussed in the blogosphere. 

Stephen has also been interviewed for Radio Five Live Channel 4 News, Channel 4's Dispatches programme, the Voice of America, International Herald Tribune, Yorkshire Post and Radio 4's The World Tonight. On election night Stephen will be guest expert in the Radio Leeds studio. 

A play based on his work has been winning good reviews following performances in the real-life debating chamber of London's County Hall. Counted, co-written by Stephen Bottoms, Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies, examines why many of the electorate feel no urge to vote.

In letters published in the Guardian and the Independent, lecturer in EU public policy Dr Nick Robinson gets to the heart of "bigot-gate". He says that the televised leadership debate had been a missed opportunity for the parties to explain that EU citizens have the right to enjoy freedom of movement - and to settle in the UK. "Until this is clearly spelt out to the British people...the immigration debate, like the debate on Britain and the EU, will remain mired in confusion."

Nick was also quoted by Reuters after the end of the third live TV debate. Dr Ed Gouge, Senior Teaching Fellow in the School of Politics and International Studies, agreed to be interviewed by Danish TV who were in Yorkshire to look at particular marginal seats. They were focusing on the Morley and Outwood constituency, south of Leeds, and keen to understand why this was a key target for the Conservatives.

Dr Bobby Sayyid, a reader in the school of Sociology and Social Policy, was interviewed by the BBC1 Politics Show on Muslim voting intentions, while politics lecturer Dr Victoria Honeyman gave the same programme her view of those local authorities which have chosen to delay the start of vote counting until the Friday morning after the polling stations close. Vicky also gave an interview for Radio 4's The World Tonight.

In an article in the Yorkshire Post, Life Fellow and political economist Hugo Radice spoke about the political realities behind Alastair Darling's pre-election budget.

Leeds academics have also been discussing some of the major international issues of the day. Duncan McCargo, Professor of Southeast Asian Politics, gave his view on recent rioting in Bangkok: "There seem to be no neutral figures left who are able to play honest broker in this increasingly dangerous stand-off," he told the Independent. He has also been interviewed by BBC World TV, Voice of America, BBC Wales yesterday and the Guardian.

Honorary senior research fellow Dr Aidan Foster-Carter was quoted in the Daily Telegraph, following military intelligence reports that a North Korean suicide squad had destroyed a South Korean warship. Though the incident has heightened still further tensions between the countries, Dr Foster Carter says retaliation was unlikely, due to the danger it could "descend into a horrible war."

And watch out for Stuart McAnulla on TV tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday 5 May) when Sky News broadcasts live from Morley, Ed Balls' constituency.

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