Paddy to broadcasters: Let Nick into third debate. He’ll debate Miliband if Cameron refuses

Paddy Ashdown has followed up his no-nonsense appearance on the Today programme, in which he said that if Cameron wouldn’t debate Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg would, with a letter to the Chair of the committee of the broadcasters who are organising the events.

He said that the debates were here to stay, that anyone with a record in government to defend should be present in all debates and that Nick should be in the third debate anyway, but should debate Miliband if Cameron doesn’t turn up.

If Cameron now takes part, he looks like he’s been dragged there. If he doesn’t he looks scared, but he doesn’t take the risk. Will it actually change people’s votes, though? Do people actually care? 

Here’s Paddy’s letter:

As you know, the Liberal Democrats are strong advocates of the leaders’ debates and wish to see them anchored permanently in the British political system. We believe they have become a hugely important part of our democratic process and that they must not be held to ransom by one party leader seeking to protect his own political interest.

I was pleased to see from your statement on Friday that you intend to stand your ground on this matter. I wish to make it absolutely clear that Nick Clegg is willing to participate in the proposed debates.

These debates are important for two reasons: they are about scrutinising the record of the Government; and they are about what happens next.

It is deeply disappointing that the Prime Minister is trying to avoid these debates. It is also clear from his ‘final offer’ to participate in a single debate before the short campaign period begins, that he does not want to debate once the Conservative Party’s manifesto has been published. Not only is he refusing to defend the government’s record, but he is also unwilling to expose his party’s plan for the future to scrutiny by the British public.

We propose that the debates should go ahead on the dates you have suggested regardless of whether the Prime Minister chooses to turn up or not.

As you know, we strongly believe that it is in the public interest that both parties of Government are present in all debates to defend their records and set out their proposals. For the third debate, we propose that it takes place between Mr Clegg, Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband. If the Prime Minister does not wish to attend then we believe the debate should proceed between Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband without him.

We look forward to your response.

 

 

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

42 Comments

  • Nick not going to be PM Ed has far more chance of being PM so if the camra shy public shy Cameron wont attend then those who have 2 seats or more and expect to get 2 seats or more debate again

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Mar '15 - 11:46am

    Much better worded than the first time around. Compromise is sometimes necessary in order to get bills through parliament, it doesn’t mean we agree with the compromise.

    One final point: there are still big risks in the global economy, so I would avoid the triumphalism that despite Osborne saying he doesn’t feel, he evidently does.

  • A two-handed Miliband/Clegg debate would be unjustifiable given the current poll ratings. The Lib Dems are trying to exploit Cameron’s cowardice in order to give themselves a legitimacy unwarranted by their current level of popularity.

    Still, by writing this letter, the Lib Dems at least seem to be acknowledging that what Ed Miliband said the other day (and was wrongly attacked on LDV for doing so) is actually true – in other words, that this is really a decision for the broadcasters to make.

  • The problem here is that every time Paddy is allowed out of The WendyHouse to say something in the media he reminds the voters and our own activists how third-rate Clegg is.

    Even those with very short political memories remember ‘Clegg versus Farago’ on Europe – last year’s big TV Debate.
    Let us put it kindly — Clegg didn’t exactly win did he?

    For those who really do not remember — The result of that Euro Election Debate was Farago 24 – Clegg 1

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 8th Mar '15 - 12:07pm

    Stuart, Miliband could have said “Yes, I’ll debate Nick Clegg and I’ll show him a thing or too, if that’s what the broadcasters decide” but he didn’t. He ran away from the question. It’s the very last thing he’ll want to do because Nick has done many more progressive things in five years than Ed Miliband’s party did in 13.

  • stuart moran 8th Mar '15 - 12:18pm

    Caron

    That post made me laugh out loud

    Are you really so tactically naive in thinking that will wash?

  • I’m sorry, but on what grounds should any ‘three-way debate ‘include Nick Clegg?

    In 2010 there was still a perceived ‘Three Party’ system. In 2015, that is no longer the case; UKIP and/or the SNP have at least as valid a claim of being the third party…..
    Furthermore, Clegg is, as he keeps reminding us, “Part of the government”….Would we expect to see Murray against Djokovic and Federer?

    I know it won’t happen but, whatever the number and form of the debates is decided, each party leader should be invited…failure to attend should mean an empty chair/rostrum with their name on it…. Cameron and his advisors are gambling that any negative impact, from his failure to attend, is outweighed by a that from a poor performance…It’s time to ‘raise the stakes….

  • I think Miliband was making it clear that debating Clegg in the ‘Next PM ‘ debate was beneath him, as Clegg will not be PM – ever. Clegg should have done the same with Farage – someone who had zero MPs at the time was elevated to debating with the Deputy Prime Minister of the country. If he had done so, UKIP might not have gained so many MEPS. And the Lib Debs might have retained more than one of its 11 MEPS.

  • Caron, if there was somebodyelse representing us the debates might be a good thing for us. But if not they are no help to us at all. Only a hinderence. Surely the Euros last year was enough. He is an open goal for all the other parties. We have to stop thinking we are good etc etc, the public has made up its mind about us and that is that. We just have to grin and bear it.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 8th Mar '15 - 12:26pm

    You can laugh all you like, Stuart. I really don’t care. It doesn’t take away from the fact that on coming into government when there was no money around (copyright L Byrne), Lib Dem priorities were to give extra money to help disadvantaged kids in school, cut taxes for low and middle income workers, protect and reform the State Pension, transform and prioritise mental health services and expand childcare for the poorest children. Labour had over a decade of benign economic circumstances when they could have done more than they managed to tackle poverty but there hearts were elsewhere.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 8th Mar '15 - 12:34pm

    Oh Theakes, what a depressingly fatalistic, defeatist attitude. One sure way to bring about disaster is to cringe apologetically in the corner and wait to be crushed. We heave a huge amount to be proud of – and a huge amount to thank Nick for, too. He’s made mistakes – some total howlers, but I’m not convinced anyone else would have done any better.

    I am continually astonished at Nick’s grace and good humour in the face of all the crap that’s been piled upon him in the last 5 years. Very few of us would have managed to deal with that.

  • A million people using food banks, double hospital admissions for malnutrition, three hundred thousand more children in absolute poverty, hundreds of millions cut from the mental health budget. Do you really not understand that the full-throated support for this Tory government we hear from you and other Cleggites is why you are around 7% in the polls?

  • David Evans 8th Mar '15 - 12:49pm

    Caron, indeed it is true that “One sure way to bring about disaster is to cringe apologetically in the corner and wait to be crushed.” The problem is, when it comes to dealing with the Nick problem, so many in positions of influence have ‘cringed apologetically in the corner’ rather than do anything about it. Indeed some have almost made it a career choice to continually urge people to do nothing because they were “not convinced anyone else would have done any better.” Now saying that truly is a “depressingly fatalistic, defeatist attitude.”

  • So does this mean that Nick is not just Deputy Prime Minister but also Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party?

  • #teamlindsay

  • Philip Thomas 8th Mar '15 - 1:02pm

    @david-1
    No. The invitations were to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, not to the Leader of the Conservative Party and the Leader of the Labour Party.

  • @Caron
    “Stuart, Miliband could have said ‘Yes, I’ll debate Nick Clegg and I’ll show him a thing or too, if that’s what the broadcasters decide’ but he didn’t. He ran away from the question.”

    Source? Where and when did Miliband “run away from the question”? My normally pretty reliable Googling skills have unearthed no such report. You gave no source when you mentioned it the other day.

    Miliband has stated clearly and consistently that he will debate with any leader the broadcaster’s invite :-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOdLbxgXtxw

    And Paddy’s letter would seem to confirm that the question of invites is up to the broadcasters – or do you disagree? Miliband has already formally accepted the invitation to take part in all three debates, so he’s running away from nobody.

    Clegg has attacked Cameron for trying to decide who is invited, saying the debates “belong to the British people”. It would be very strange indeed if he suddenly changed tack and suggested that the debates belong not to the British people, or the broadcasters, but to Ed Miliband!

  • stuart moran 8th Mar '15 - 1:21pm

    Caron

    You lost me when you go on about that sill Byrne ‘joke’ made copying one done by Maydling in the 70s. The fact that Laws decided to make it public – you know that expenses cheat – says a lot about his morals!

    The increase in tax has mostly benefited the middle classes. I am not against it in principle but it is not quite the great success it is portrayed when the detail is looked at.

    I am not saying everything this Government has done is wrong but a lot has been and cherry picking some parts as well as blowing them out of proportion is not really very good!

    Have you any evidence that Miliband is ‘running away’ from Clegg? He probably just can’t be bothered replying to someone who is desperately trying to make himself relevant

    You are no longer a particularly relevant party – concentrated in a small number of constituencies in the south and west. Not a national party any more. UKIP have a more widespread vote

  • Caron Lindsay 8th Mar ’15 – 12:34pm I am continually astonished at Nick’s grace and good humour in the face of all the crap that’s been piled upon him in the last 5 years. Very few of us would have managed to deal with that.

    Where-as Milliband has been given such an easy ride? His family have been abused, he is constantly being portrayed as ‘Wallace’, etc…. Strange then that this ‘gormless schoolboy’ is hounding our slick PM to a one-on-one debate.

    All Paddy and Nick are doing is muddying the water and taking the spotlight off Cameron….Accusing Milliband of “Running Away” is, as has been said, laughable….

  • I thought they were “[party] leaders’ debates.” But in any case it seems absurd for Clegg to treat this as an event where he can “fill in” à la PMQs!

  • @AndrewR
    “Do you really not understand that the full-throated support for this Tory government we hear from you and other Cleggites is why you are around 7% in the polls?”

    Well, quite.

    A quick recap: David Cameron has REJECTED all invitations from the broadcasters to the leaders’ debates. Ed Miliband has ACCEPTED all invitations from the broadcasters to the leaders’ debates, and said he is happy to debate with any leader the broadcasters invite. So who are the Lib Dems trying to suggest is chicken? Why, Ed Miliband, of course!

    I think this tells you all you need to know about why the Lib Dems are currently about as popular as anthrax with left-leaning voters.

  • @Caron

    It doesn’t take away from the fact that on coming into government when there was no money around (copyright L Byrne), Lib Dem priorities were to give extra money to help disadvantaged kids in school

    Nice to see you parroting Expenses Cheat David Laws mis-reporting of Byrne’s note.

    Also, if you wanted to give money to disadvantaged kids in schools, why was EMA scapped?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 8th Mar '15 - 2:08pm

    @stuart moran – on BBC News channel on Thursday, mid morning.

  • stuart moran 8th Mar '15 - 2:14pm

    Caron

    I didn’t see it so what was said to justify ‘running away’?

    Could it have been interpreted as being ‘ignoring a desperate act from an irrelevant leader’?

    I fail to see why Miliband would want to debate Clegg – Clegg is not going to be PM ( apart from in his own head) and why would he want to muddy the water? He has Cameron on the run

    On LDV of course it is Labour who are ‘running away’. When will Dan ‘new Labour sycophant’ Hodges be joining the team?

  • stuart moran 8th Mar '15 - 2:16pm

    Last two posts responding to a member of editorial team not been allowed to be shown! Typical!

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Mar '15 - 2:31pm

    The Labourites on here are becoming like the SNP’s Cyber-nats. The site has a right to defend itself against people from other parties trying to trample on it.

    Constructive communication however, is welcome.

  • @Stuart Moran

    Do you do Twitter ? If so post there what’s been modded here. Plus your Twitter name of course 🙂
    Or maybe someone could start a ‘What Lib Dem Voice wouldn’t let me say’ website.

    Just joking Caron.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 8th Mar '15 - 2:35pm

    Stuart, your last post was published 2 minutes after it was put up. It’s Sunday afternoon. Am I expected to sit here until you finish commenting or am I allowed to go and spend some time with my family?

    You may wish to apologise for your rather hasty and unjustified comment.

  • Chris Manners 8th Mar '15 - 2:39pm

    So Caron- if there was no money left in 2010, how much is left now?

    And you’re a political anorak, like the rest of us here. You know very well it was a joke left just like Reggie Maudling’s note.

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Mar ’15 – 2:31pm The Labourites on here are becoming like the SNP’s Cyber-nats. The site has a right to defend itself against people from other parties trying to trample on it. Constructive communication however, is welcome.

    And who decides what is constructive criticism? The same people who brand disaffected LDs as Labourites, perhaps?

  • stuart moran 8th Mar '15 - 3:01pm

    Eddie Sammon

    I am frustrated at seeing the LD establishment lining up behind the Tories whenever possible! I am a lot wing LD who happens to preferiliband to Clegg!

    Caron

    I apologise but you must admit it is frustrating when a post is prevented from being posted when it is response to another one!

  • Philip Thomas 8th Mar '15 - 3:04pm

    I think that there is automated software which identifies posts as suitable for moderation. I don’t think the software can tell your political affiliation! But I may have misunderstood.

  • @Caron Lindsay
    Is this the interview you saw?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31745940

  • @stuart moran
    “I am frustrated at seeing the LD establishment lining up behind the Tories whenever possible!”

    This is what Clegg said on his LBC show the other day: “I am assuming the role, about the only person who is stepping up to the plate to defend the record of this government. If David Cameron’s not prepared to do it, I’m very happy to do it.”

    If that’s how Clegg really feels, then if I were a Lib Dem I’d want him to have as little involvement with these debates as possible.

  • I honestly think it’s time that Lib Dems focus their fire on the Tories and refrain from constantly attacking Labour, even when there is no justification, as on this issue. The right wing press are already giving us constant attacks on Ed Miliband so there is no need for the Lib Dems to join in. It is turning people off the Lib Dems.

    Miliband has agreed to do all three debates, Cameron has refused. Turning the attention to Clegg is a diversion from Cameron and can only harm the Lib Dems’ natural voters if people associate Clegg with ”defending this government’ at a time when it is crucial to differentiate.

  • [email protected]

    Why did his post not go straight up onto the site ?

  • Eddie [email protected]

    Would you prefer a hermetically sealed pod ?
    Many people who are very critical of the party’s performance are people who voted Lib Dem, or were Lib Dem members.

  • Phyllis
    You are quite right re – attacks on Labour. I know a number of people who would still be supportive had it not been for that (from the beginning of the coalition). Those attacks meant lining up our rhetoric with that of the Tories, and it looking even more as if we were “in bed with” the Tories. It is possibly too late for cessation of this to make much difference to our results, though.

    Pedants’ Corner – “Debate with” or even “debate against”, but certainly not “Debate Miliband”. I have heard far too much of this construction, especially in the last few days.

  • ……..Health secretary Jeremy Hunt faces allegations of a politically motivated cover-up after the Tory head of the health select committee said his department’s refusal to publish a damning report on NHS management before the general election was not acceptable…..

    Were I Nick I might be wary of taking on the task of defending the government… Being “left holding the baby” comes to mind

  • Caron 12.34pm
    I havn’t got where I am today by dreaming and pretending its okay. To move forward we have to be realistic. Surely by now you must have to terms with the real Scottish situation. The two main parties are beginning the process of consolidation and a quick look at the current local by election results point to this. I suspect the final piece in the jigsaw will see a swing to the Conservatives in the last 2 weeks or so, based on the favourable economic news, ” do not Labour spoil it etc”, which inevitably will squeeze us badly in England.

  • Julian Tisi 9th Mar '15 - 9:18am

    Phyllis “I honestly think it’s time that Lib Dems focus their fire on the Tories and refrain from constantly attacking Labour, even when there is no justification, as on this issue.”

    I completely disagree. On this issue, it’s only David Cameron who’s being attacked by both Nick and Paddy, so why do you take this as an attack on Labour?

    Of course in forums like this all bets are off and people can attack who they like. Speaking personally I don’t think we’ve gone far enough as a party with our attacks on Labour – but crucially our attacks are very different from the ones you’ll hear from the Tories. Labour has spent the last 5 years demonising us for cuts we’ve made as part of this government. Our counter is that Labour would have been in the same position and would have had to make the same level of cuts as the government – indeed, they promised a similar level of cuts to those actually delivered to date back in 2010. Labour is now oddly trying to on the one hand say that the government cut too hard and too fast and on the other hand berate the government for the fact that the deficit hasn’t been brought down as much as the Tories hoped it would (i.e. completely eliminated, rather than halved as promised by the Lib Dems and Labour and as actually delivered by the Coalition). Well which is it? Should the government have cut by more or by less? This is just one example of the dollops of hypocrisy and double standard about Labour at the moment that we’re right to point out. Labour have tried to portray themselves as the holier than though last remaining progressives for not being the ones doing the cuts, having taken the brave decision not to try to fix the problems left in 2010 and leave it to others instead. We’re right to point to the lack of progress Labour made in 13 years of government on their own and in benign economic circumstances. We’re also right to point to the contradictions in what Labour is promising now – e.g. on tuition fees, where Labour’s policy will help the very richest at the cost of a good university education for the many.

  • Jayne Mansfield 9th Mar '15 - 9:51am

    I would love to listen to a pre-election debate between Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. It would be the best way to test Caron’s claim that Nick has done more progressive things in five years of government than the Labour government did in 13.

    I think it would be a really grown up discussion.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Peter Hirst
    It was a great evening with inspiring talks and questions. By being the Party for PR, we can become the Party for minorities whatever their characteristics. We ...
  • Peter Hirst
    Politiican will do what they estimate will win them votes. We still live in an imperfect democracy with elections at least every five years. What we need is a m...
  • Jeff
    Joe Bourke 23rd Oct '21 - 12:27pm: Just such a system already exists – it is called the Common Agricultural Policy. The EU’s Common Agricu...
  • John Barrett
    I am in favour of ending online anonymity for the simple reason that it enables anyone, or any group, to post anything that is either: not true, a deliberate li...
  • John Marriott
    The new Vaccines Minister, a certain Ms Maggie Throup (“Maggie Who?” I hear you ask) is an interesting character. When I used regularly to watch PMQ’s pre...