The first debate is being broadcast by LBC radio from 19:00 GMT. BBC Radio 4’s Today programme will be discussing the debate on Thursday morning in Salford. Round two will be televised live at the same time on 2 April, on BBC Two.
A bit concerned about this debate tonight. Methinks there is good cause for concern.
1. If you recall the Guido interview on the Beeb and then the DK interview, both were ambushed on irrelevancies which nevertheless existed. It was an exercise in mudslinging by the Beeb and character assassination.
Then you’ll recall John Hirst [Jailhouse Lawyer] going on Neil’s show and Neil asking him about everything except prisoners’ votes. Whatever your opinion of John Hirst, that’s all Neil was interested in speaking about – Hirst’s background and character. The prisoners’ votes issue did not get a look in.
The thing is – the Beeb has shown no inclination to allow Nigel a platform until now and suddenly they do? What material has Clegg been fed by Marr’s and Neil’s researchers?
2. Goodnight Vienna touched on a second matter in her tweet: “I don’t think it was such a good idea for @Nigel_Farage to say ‘Clegg won’t know what hit him’.”
Precisely – it is Nigel’s job to play the responsible straight man. This debate tonight cannot really boost the out of the EU case all that much, given that the two major parties see this as a lightweight debate between two non-parties but it just needs Farage caught out a couple of times or having to sift through notes [on radio, mind] and he’ll look bad, out of all proportion to the gravity of the issue.
3. Then there is the audience composition:
Strict arrangements for the conduct of the debate have been put in place, as they were ahead of the televised 2010 general election leaders’ debates.
Questions from the audience, which has been selected to reflect the UK population as well as a range of views on the EU, will be screened by an editorial panel but the parties will not see them in advance.
The party leaders will both make opening and closing statements and will have one minute to answer questions from the audience before presenter Nick Ferrari opens up the subjects raised to debate.
“which has been selected to reflect the UK population”
Let’s look at this. It means, based on the last GE results, that Conservative [anti-UKIP] and Labour [anti-UKIP], plus LD [anti-UKIP] will make up the vast majority and their applause will be quite audible, remembering there is a technician with a fader in the box looking on and the producer beside him.
“as well as a range of views on the EU”
On which basis? Beeb decides that.
4. First radio, then TV.
Thinking this through, why? From the Beeb’s point of view, it’s insurance. From the two party leaders’ point of view, radio is a safe start. But each has its traps. On radio, the host has total control, on TV, less control but the audience playa larger part.
5. Nigel has to debate, no question there:
“Therefore, when the deputy PM says he wants to go public and have a debate with me on this issue, I have absolutely no choice.
“I’ve got to say yes, because we need to have a national debate on what I think is the most important issue this country has faced for hundreds of years.”
Yes but Nigel, this is Clegg’s agenda, having already gathered his forces, aided by the clout of the Beeb’s, Govt’s, Big Business’s and the EU’s dirty tricks departments.
When Nigel says Clegg won’t know what hit him, I suspect the opposite. Where will that then put the anti-EU arguments which genuinely do exist?