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Is this going to get off the ground?

September 2nd, 2009


Sky News

What’ll be the impact on the campaign?

Things seem to be moving over a TV debate between the three main leaders during the general election campaign. There are reports that David Frost could be the chairman while Sky News has launched its own campaign.

Is it going to happen? The challenge is that this could play such a vital role in the campaign that Cameron, Clegg and Brown (assuming it is he) have to be ultra-cautious. This would dominate the media for days beforehand and also afterwards. Every little nuance would be analysed to the nth degree and the chances of making a cock-up would be very high.

Remember the first Obama-McCain debate in last year’s White House race. The big talking point afterwards was not who had come over best but that McCain had not mentioned Obama by name nor even looked at his opponent during the 90 minute enocounter. He had been moving forward in the polls up to that point.

My guess is the best strategy for Brown and Cameron is to be seen as enthusiastic backers but, at the same time, hope that it doesn’t get staged. That was Blair’s apparent approach in 1997. Agree the principle but not the details.

The one with most to lose is the front-runner, David Cameron. The one with most to gain is Nick Clegg – for simply to be seen on the same level as the Tory and Labour leaders would give his party a boost. Also I think his direct style might work well.

If I was to bet (Shadsy why not a market?) I would probably put money on it not happening. It’s just too risky.

UPDATE: Ladbrokes now has markets up on whether or not there will be a debate and, if so, who will be the chair.

Mike Smithson