Tory bloggers split over TV debate

Will it be a lifeline for Gordon Brown or a chance for David Cameron to shine?

Yesterday, Gordon Brown became Britain's first* Prime Minister to agree to go head-to-head with other party leaders in three televised election debates. The announcement has prompted a flurry of reactions from Tory bloggers, among others.

They've pretty much placed themselves in two camps, with one side calling the debates a bad idea for David Cameron.

Over at ConservativeHome, Tim Montgomerie writes:

I am disappointed . . . Heading for a massive defeat, these debates are a lifeline for Gordon Brown.

Elswhere, PoliticalBetting's Mike Smithson and Gary Gibbon of Channel 4 News agree with Montgomerie's assessment, suggesting that David Cameron has the most to lose. Framing the decision to enter the debates as a strategic move by the Labour camp, Gibbon says:

It gives the Liberal Democrats one hell of a leg-up, and that's high in Labour's calculations (they want the Lib Dems to do well against the Tories to limit Tory gains) but not as high as the fundamental point: Labour strategists think Gordon Brown might just make David Cameron look naive, not versed in the ways of the world and not a man to hold the tiller in dangerous times.

And Smithson says:

The big loser could possibly be David Cameron who, in my view, has made a seriously bad decision.

In the other camp, Iain Dale has expressed delight at the news and writes that the Conservatives should have more faith in their leader.

Of course these debates are risky for David Cameron. He will remember that in the head to heads with David Davis during the leadership contest he never really came out on top. But I have little fear of that happening again. Conservatives ought to have confidence in David Cameron's ability to approach these debates in the right way.

Yet most, if not all, agreed that Clegg would emerge as the debates' biggest winner, just from being seen on the same platform as the two larger parties.

Put simply by Charlie Beckett of the London School of Economics:

As for Nick Clegg, well, he'll just be delighted to get some attention.

* Technically, of course, John Major was the first prime minister to agree to a debate, but plans for a 1997 head-to-head ultimately failed due to disagreements over the format.

 

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A global marketplace: the internet represents exporting’s biggest opportunity

The advent of the internet age has made the whole world a single marketplace. Selling goods online through digital means offers British businesses huge opportunities for international growth. The UK was one of the earliest adopters of online retail platforms, and UK online sales revenues are growing at around 20 per cent each year, not just driving wider economic growth, but promoting the British brand to an enthusiastic audience.

Global e-commerce turnover grew at a similar rate in 2014-15 to over $2.2trln. The Asia-Pacific region, for example, is embracing e-marketplaces with 28 per cent growth in 2015 to over $1trln of sales. This demonstrates the massive opportunities for UK exporters to sell their goods more easily to the world’s largest consumer markets. My department, the Department for International Trade, is committed to being a leader in promoting these opportunities. We are supporting UK businesses in identifying these markets, and are providing access to services and support to exploit this dramatic growth in digital commerce.

With the UK leading innovation, it is one of the responsibilities of government to demonstrate just what can be done. My department is investing more in digital services to reach and support many more businesses, and last November we launched our new digital trade hub: www.great.gov.uk. Working with partners such as Lloyds Banking Group, the new site will make it easier for UK businesses to access overseas business opportunities and to take those first steps to exporting.

The ‘Selling Online Overseas Tool’ within the hub was launched in collaboration with 37 e-marketplaces including Amazon and Rakuten, who collectively represent over 2bn online consumers across the globe. The first government service of its kind, the tool allows UK exporters to apply to some of the world’s leading overseas e-marketplaces in order to sell their products to customers they otherwise would not have reached. Companies can also access thousands of pounds’ worth of discounts, including waived commission and special marketing packages, created exclusively for Department for International Trade clients and the e-exporting programme team plans to deliver additional online promotions with some of the world’s leading e-marketplaces across priority markets.

We are also working with over 50 private sector partners to promote our Exporting is GREAT campaign, and to support the development and launch of our digital trade platform. The government’s Exporting is GREAT campaign is targeting potential partners across the world as our export trade hub launches in key international markets to open direct export opportunities for UK businesses. Overseas buyers will now be able to access our new ‘Find a Supplier’ service on the website which will match them with exporters across the UK who have created profiles and will be able to meet their needs.

With Lloyds in particular we are pleased that our partnership last year helped over 6,000 UK businesses to start trading overseas, and are proud of our association with the International Trade Portal. Digital marketplaces have revolutionised retail in the UK, and are now connecting consumers across the world. UK businesses need to seize this opportunity to offer their products to potentially billions of buyers and we, along with partners like Lloyds, will do all we can to help them do just that.

Taken from the New Statesman roundtable supplement Going Digital, Going Global: How digital skills can help any business trade internationally

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