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Four things the leaders' debates fiasco tell us about the Prime Minister

March 6, 2015


David Cameron  says one thing but does another


David Cameron has said he wants to take part in debates with other Leaders but he repeatedly acts in a way that makes those debates less likely. His very obvious ploy to insist the Greens are involved and the ultimatum he has given to broadcasters clearly show he will be happier if the debates do not take place. He should ask himself if the risk of ‘losing’ a debate is greater than the danger voters will see him as someone who simply cannot be trusted.




He Is Nervous.


The PM argues with Ed Miliband every Wednesday in Parliament, and he happily took part in the 2010 TV debates, so why is he so reluctant to do so now? There are two obvious reasons: he is so far ahead of Ed M in polling that he does not want to risk Ed scoring points in a debate; and he is desperate to prevent Nigel Farage doing well on national TV at his expense. On both counts the PM is clearly nervous, some would say frightened, which is ironic as he may end up losing more support by running away from the debates than by taking part in them. His fears may be clouding his judgement.



He is more interested in holding on to power than listening to voters


As more than 20 million people watched the 2010 TV debates and there is huge uncertainty surrounding what will happen in this General Election, when his advisors counsel the PM to avoid the debates he should reply ‘but what about the public?’. If he truly believes in promoting democracy then he should support events that improve the link between politics and the public, which the Leaders’ debates would do. But it seems the effect the debates might have on him outweigh the effect they might have on the electorate. This may prove to be a serious miscalculation as criticism of the PM for wriggling out of the debates will cause Conservative candidates and MPs embarrassment too.



His Track Record Is A Liability


In a debate that ultimately points toward who will run the country, David Cameron should hold the trump card as he is the only party Leader who has done the job before. In theory, this should give him the strongest ‘CV’ for the post and the greatest credibility. But instead of looking forward to the debates as an opportunity to trumpet his achievements and demonstrate how he has the best case to be made our next PM, he is avoiding them. Perhaps he recognises that however often he repeats the ‘long term economic plan’ mantra, his track record over 5 years as Prime Minister has too many flaws and failures for it to be an advantage. It was his government, remember, that spawned the phrase ‘omni-shambles’. So instead of giving him an edge in the debates, his track record as PM is a liability that the debates might amplify.

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