Cameron’s cowardice should not cancel leader debates


What’s the current situation on the political parties’ ‘leader debates’? Is Cameron still playing chicken and using the Green Party as a human shield?

The last this writer heard was that he was saying he wouldn’t turn up if Ofcom didn’t let the Greens take part, as the Green Party is now the fourth largest in terms of membership (behind Labour, the Conservatives – who could be lying about theirs, and the SNP, having overtaken UKIP and the Liberal Democrats).

Ofcom seems to be saying the Greens don’t qualify because they don’t have enough MPs (which seems strange, as it seems perfectly willing to let UKIP take part and it only has one more MP than the Greens).

Is that about right?

It’s rumoured that Cameron has cold feet about the debates because of what happened in 2010, when ‘Cleggmania’ (briefly) swept the nation and everybody including himself seemed to be saying “I agree with Nick”. His advisors are allegedly telling him that Clegg’s performance in the debates seriously damaged his standing and prevented him from gaining an outright victory in the election.

(This may seem odd, as the Liberal Democrats in fact lost five seats at the election, but we need to remember that – in the First Past The Post system – it seems likely that LD candidates took votes from Conservatives, allowing others to take marginal seats).

It seems likely Cameron is also in fear of Nigel Farage, who is generally accepted to have beaten Clegg in televised debates about the European Union.

The other three leaders who were set to take part in the debates have called for them to go ahead, with Cameron ’empty-chaired’ – a podium should be put out for him but left vacant to show he has opted not to participate.

This would still leave the other parties without a voice in the debates and – considering their popularity – that’s clearly wrong.

Perhaps these debates should go ahead, with only the Labour, LD and UKIP leaders if Ofcom won’t bend.

If so, then the other party leaders should consider alternative strategies.

Is there any reason they should not record their own responses to the questions asked in these debates – and the issues raised by them – and make those responses available to the public, via the media broadcasters, newspaper websites, YouTube and the social media?

This would give a certain unfair advantage to the Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the National Health Action Party, FUKP and whoever else, because they would have advance warning of the questions before starting, and would know what the other leaders had said – but it does seem fairer thanaltogether  denying them a chance to put their cases forward.

In this scenario the only loser would be David Cameron who, fittingly, would have denied himself the chance to speak while allowing it to everyone else – poetic justice for a man who has tried to gag political debate in the run-up to the election.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Mr.Angry January 19, 2015 at 4:13 pm - Reply


  2. J Prewett January 19, 2015 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    The Greens support has overtaken that of U/Kip, so what is his excuse Now !.

    • Andy Robertson-Fox January 19, 2015 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      If, as you say, Greens support has overtaken UKIP I would suggest that ıt ıs Ofcom that now need an excuse to maıntaın excludıng them.

  3. hilary772013 January 19, 2015 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    I saw an interview & when asked about Cameron running scared of the debates the person being interveiwed said he could understand why he didn’t want to participate & weighing up the pros and cons he was probably better off not doing so even if it made him look bad as it would probably be disastrous for Cameron if he did participate and not doing so was the lesser of the two evils
    The person being interveiwed was not a politician but clearly was a Tory supporter

    • Mike Sivier January 19, 2015 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      To me, that suggests this person knows Cameron would put his foot in his mouth and ruin his chances.
      If so, what does that say about the man I’ve been calling our ‘comedy prime minister’ for the past few years?

  4. Doc Weary January 19, 2015 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    He’s not PM material, never has been and this show of a yellow streak just goes to prove it.

  5. Andy January 19, 2015 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    These kind of TV ‘debates’ are just a sucession of crafted sentences for dissemination as soundbites. People don’t read manifestos anymore, they think you can debate each issue in just a few minutes, and then it’s judged like some sort of sporting oneupmanship. A popularity contest, forget it if your looking for some great oratory.

    • Mike Sivier January 20, 2015 at 2:51 am - Reply

      I reckon you’re right about what people think, but if they applied their intelligence to it, they’d know that can’t be right. MPs spend hours debating these subjects in the Houses of Parliament – not just in the Commons chamber but in the Lords and in committee – yet they seem to think you can sum up a policy (or those opposed to it) in a few sentences. Irrational.

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