David Cameron's punt on the BBC Leaders' Debate was a mistake

Thursday evening saw another party leaders debate.  This time it was a BBC production, hosted by David Dimbleby.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, chose not to take part. One assumes that he and his strategists had good reasons for his decision.  He has presided over many unpopular policies and would have been exposed to continual criticism.  Perhaps he and his advisers felt that he could only lose.

But his absence felt odd.  All the other participants were able to hammer the Coalition Government policies with impunity (Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, was not there either).  Ed Miliband was able to take up the Prime Ministerial mantle unopposed.

Of the five parties that did show up for the debate, four are clearly to the left of David Cameron’s Conservatives and one, UKIP, are very much to the right.  Their closing statements were different and appealed to different demographics, but throughout all I could hear was the sound of the Comservatives hemorrhaging votes.

My hunch is that the nationalist parties will do very well on 7 May, and that UKIP will pick up votes that should otherwise have gone to the Tories.  I think this will allow Labour to prevail in a few seats that they may not otherwise have won, and that Miliband’s offer will persuade enough other voters.  Taken together, all these results will put Labour in a position to form their own minority or coalition government.  Of course, the campaign still has a few weeks left to run… but right now, I think Ed Miliband will become Prime Minister in May.

4 Replies to “David Cameron's punt on the BBC Leaders' Debate was a mistake”

  1. Oh lordie, please no, not Ed Milliband. I could not stomach five years of that nasally-congested whiny lisping.
    Personally, I think it was great to have a debate between the opposition parties only, as it gave the smaller parties more of an equal footing and kept the numbers a bit more manageable for the audience to follow. That the media have turned something that was good for the electorate and good for democracy into a stick to beat Cameron and Clegg with seems like a bit of a shame to me.

    1. Do you really vote for people based on their voice? Is it only whiny lisping that is off limits, or maybe posh plummy accents too? Or perhaps it’s a no-no to anyone sounding ‘a touch of the council’? God forbid anyone with a speech impediment stands for election. But I suspect you are being slightly tongue-in-cheek?
      On the point about giving the opposition parties an equal footing, I’m wary. If it’s going to be a genuine debate then I think it has to include all positions, not just some of them. And by going out of our way to have a debate between the Not Prime Ministers, could that not have the opposite effect to what is intended. That there is a prestige to being excluded?! Sitting MPs are not allowed to use the suffix ‘MP’ while standing for election because it could give them an unfair edge. I think the debates should start from a similar premise of equality… Which means that Cameron should slum it with all those weird voices and accents – lisps, Aussie, Welsh, Scots, and Toad.

  2. No, it’s just a shorthand for everything else I don’t like about him 🙂
    (ps a lisp IS a speech impediment!)
    About the debates, your argument would be really true if we hadn’t already had the main full debate with all of them. I think it’s good that there was a supplementary one with opposition only. I don’t think it’s good to treat people equally when they’re not equal. Current prime ministers and their arguments are different from the opposition by virtue of having just been in power for 5 years. It’s not about prestige, it’s about being in a qualitatively different position.

  3. Loving this debate. As with a lot of things these days I am sitting on the fence regarding the wisdom of the second debate without Cameron. But either way Miliband came out well and was able to look Prime Ministerial and Nigel Farage showed himself for what he is . Very confusing to find Cameron and my favourite Nick Clegg having a go at each other in the first debate but I liked Vince Cable on the Andrew Marr show yesterday.

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