If they happen at all the 2015 election TV debates will be reduced to a litany of dull, pre-prepared responses and little actual debate. Broadcasters have put forward proposals for two debates featuring the leaders of seven UK political parties, including the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens, UKIP, SNP and Plaid Cymru.
As the London Evening Standard reported last night that will mean just four or five questions with seven responses for each one. The leaders replies will be restricted to just sixty seconds. It’s not the kind of format that will allow any leader to shine or provoke any meaningful interaction. With just five or so minutes to speak Nick Clegg won’t have time to repeat the success of his 201 0 performances.
The only possibility of real interaction is a proposed head-to-head between just David Cameron and Ed Miliband as one of the three broadcast, but Cameron is unlikely to agree and may railroad the debates altogether.
Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, said recently that they “edging towards a solution” but that Cameron was prepered to participate without giving a binding commitment. That sounds a lot like talks about talks. Many senior Conservatives think it would suit Cameron to keep debating the terms of the Debates until the clock runs out.