Rumours suggest Brown will accept debates, but seek to exclude Clegg

The BBC reports that Gordon Brown will accept the proposals, forcibly proposed by Sky’s Adam Boulton, for a leaders’ debate… but with only partial involvement for Nick Clegg:

Months ago, Conservative leader Mr Cameron called for a TV election debate to be held involving Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg as well.

Sources suggest Mr Brown would rather go “head to head” with the Tory leader and is prepared to take part in a series of debates – some involving Mr Clegg and others not – in order to allow this to happen.

This seems to be yet another gaffe by Brown. Even if Brown extends the proposal to become a series of debates, I think he will find it harder than he expects to exclude the Liberal Democrats. I would predict that Cameron will insist on Clegg’s participation, calculating that it is better than to look fair-minded than join in Brown’s pettiness. Moreover, Boulton, who has been planning his debate, is very clear that it would have to include the Lib Dem leader:

… only three people can possibly be Prime Minister after the next election. The choice will be made from the leaders of the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative Parties – our main Britain-wide political movements.

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  • Stanley Theed 28th Sep '09 - 11:20pm

    I am of the view that any attempt by Gordon Brown and/or David Cameron to exclude Nick Clegg from any series of leadership debates would backfire on them. Any such debates between now and the general election would be seen as general election debates and the Liberal Democrats would be able to make much mileage out of Nick being excluded for in effect it would mean that the general election campaign would have already started. Maybe Brown is counting on our objections to prevent such debates taking place.

  • How can they exclude the LDs broadcasting rules mean we will have to be included

  • Boulton is wrong. Clegg can’t be PM after the election.

    He could, however, decide who does become PM – and for that reason must be included.

  • Just seen the IPSOS poll released today – maybe we should be pushing for the third placed party to be excluded now, so that it’s a straight head to head between the two main parties – us and the Tories?

  • Roger Roberts 29th Sep '09 - 10:02am

    Is it not time for Leaders’ TV debates to be part of the normal procedure, as in the US ? Surely, no one leader, PM or not, should be able to move the goal posts ? I’m wondering would a short parliamentary bill be able to make this Leaders’ Debate a legal obligation ? Any ideas please ?

  • Dominic Hannigan 29th Sep '09 - 12:14pm

    I wouldn’t neccaserilly agree that Dave will not back down on including Nick. I think that increasingly, we need to hope that Mr Boulton continues to do the right and democratic thing!

  • I really hope Brown. Clegg and Cameron stick SKY’s forcing of a Leadership debate right back at them and if they do agree to have a debate they ask the BBC as the national broadcaster to host it.

  • Given how quick many Lib Dems were to sneer at the objections raised by various nationalist parties concerning the suitability of presidential-style debates in a parliamentary election, I’ll really laugh my tits off if Clegg gets excluded too.

  • Cllr Patrick Smith 29th Sep '09 - 4:47pm

    The Country would demand that Nick Clegg is invited to the proposed national debates but is it over 3 debating contests that could highlight different themes across the piece, as in the US Presidential Elections.

    Roger Roberts asks a pertinent question as to whether a new Leader`s debate occurs via a short piece of legislation, to ensure that this is done fairly on a national mainstream TV channel.

    It is important that all 3 Leaders have the same air time in the proposed TV debates whether hosted by Adam Boulton or Jeremy Paxman.

  • “The country would demand that Nick Clegg is invited…”

    Don’t be ridiculous. The only people who would care if Clegg didn’t get an invite would be Lib Dem voters. The rest either wouldn’t care one jot, or would actively enjoy the chance to rub your noses in it.

  • I don’t think this is the place for legislation. In any case once such a debate has happened once the precedent will be set and no-one will turn it down in the future.

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