Despite news organisations and broadcasters bowing to the demands of the Prime Minister (which is already a questionable move by supposedly independent news organisations) and including The Green Party in TV political debates, the Prime Minister has still yet to confirm officially that he will take part.
He had previously made a song and dance about not appearing until The Green Party were invited to join alongside the leaders of The Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP in a TV debate. Yet, even now broadcasters have announced that there will be a grand total of seven party leaders included in the debate (this includes the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru and the major four parties) which will clearly alter the feasibility of proper discussion of issues, Cameron has still not confirmed or denied whether he’ll be taking part in them. In a joint statement (clearly targeted at Cameron) from ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC, they said that “In the event that any of the invited party leaders decline to participate, debates will take place with the party leaders who accept the invitation”.
But the big question hanging over this entire debate is why on earth Cameron has been so picky on who is included in the debates. Surely it is in his best interest to debate as few candidates as possible; the fewer competitors the bigger the share of the vote surely? But in reality it is less about the share of the vote than the political lean of the people watching. Parties like The Conservatives and UKIP are right leaning whilst the Lib Dems typically take on a mix of left and right leaning policies and Labour occupy the traditionally left leaning beliefs. Although it may be a cynical approach to the subject of equality for all political parties, it seems that the Prime Minister’s agenda was no more than levelling the playing field in terms of political ideology.
So essentially our current Prime Minister has no balls.
Is he so afraid of losing a TV debate because of an unfair representation of the politics? If he doesn’t believe in his right leaning politics to win over enough minds in a debate then surely he isn’t the man to be leading the Tories at all. Even Ed Milliband is willing to take on a political debate despite being one of the most unpopular labour leaders ever, heck Nick Clegg is giving it a go despite being a member of a party which has taken a royal kicking since it “sold its soul” to the tories, why can’t Cameron (who actually polls pretty well in many opinion polls) suck up his pride and take these two on head to head?
Because it isn’t just these two is it…
UKIP were always going to be up there debating him. The fact that they are currently on 17% in YouGov opinion polls (Lab has 33%, Tories 31%, Green 8% and LibDem 7%) shows that the formerly fringe party is gaining significant momentum along with its recent Parliamentary acquisitions (which only make up for two seats). And this increase in support for the right leaning party has surely got to spell bad news for Cameron’s Tories. Labour are unlikely to be unsettled by The Greens who are significantly more left wing than Milliband’s party but UKIP aren’t much more radical than many Conservatives and people are clearly starting to realise this.
The problem with the debate about the debates is not that Cameron is unable to debate Milliband and Clegg, he is still the most popular of the three major party leaders, but against Farage he may find that he is fighting rhetoric he actually agrees with. The difficulty for Cameron is whether he will manage to differentiate Conservative policies from UKIP’s, if they are continued to be diluted by this growing force in politics it’s possible there will be a significant change in politics in the UK. But not from Tory to UKIP but from Tory and UKIP vs Labour. If he wants to win this election – and actually increase the number of seats his party has in Parliament (something almost never done) – then he needs to show guts and determination; at the moment he is looking more and more like a child hiding from the school bully.