Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mandy Opens the Door to Brown-Cameron TV Debate

Just a few short months ago, Gordon Brown made it clear it would be a dark day in hell before he agreed to a televised debate in the election campaign with David Cameron. But this morning Peter Mandelson has said on Sky News that he would be in favour of such a debate. One must presume that he had cleared this with the Prime Minister beforehand, otherwise one can imagine a few Nokias being thrown at the PM's holiday home this afternoon.

Whatever the reason, it's a welcome change of mind. As Cameron has said, the British people deserve to see the two of them up close and personal during an election campaign. It's not being presidential, it's just the way our politics are done nowadays. I suspect such a debate would get a massive audience and would hopefully really catch the imagination.

Many commentators automatically assume that Cameron would walk such a debate. Don't be so hasty. They are risky things, as I well remember from the leadership contest. In the Question Time debate, David Davis was a clear winner, and the others were draws. Nothing should be taken for granted, as Brown is likely to come out fighting.

Bring it on!

UPDATE: According to The Times, Gordon Brown has firmly shut the door and slapped down our very dear First Secretary of State. Does Mandelson feel so powerful now that he feels he can just freelance on issues like this without even having discussed it with the man formerly known as the Prime Minister?

UPDATE 6pm: David Cameron has written to Gordon Brown...

I am writing to ask you to clarify the Government’s position on the issue of a television debate between the leaders of the main political parties.

Five months ago, when I challenged you at Prime Minister’s Questions to a televised studio debate, you refused. This morning, Lord Mandelson said you were open to the idea. But within an hour, a Downing Street spokesperson back-tracked, saying this was not the case.

The Government seems to have a number of positions on this. I’ve only ever had one: a prime time televised debate is just what our political system needs.

It would help to energise our democratic process, engage the electorate and restore trust in politics. Democracies across the world – from Australia to America to Brazil to Indonesia – have benefited from the invigorating effects of these debates. Even in Iran a series of television debates was held during the recent election campaign.

Your previous objection was that a televised debate was unnecessary as the issues were aired each week in parliament. But Prime Minister’s Questions simply cannot compete with the accessibility of a primetime studio debate. I want the chance to set out the choice at the next election to many more people than those who watch on a Wednesday lunchtime.

For these reasons I hope you will today make clear your position on this crucial issue.

73 comments:

Uncle Bob said...

Is Mandy a tory double-agent? Brilliant news if this comes off!

Dick the Prick said...

Sub ed - Mandy surely?

Jonathan Cook said...

This could be dangerous for Cameron - Brown will unleash his full arsenal of lies and distortions......... the question is how gullible are the public?

As well as a presidential style debate, I'd like to see a "Question Time" debate in front of members of the public. Now - I'd bet £100 that Brown would bottle that type of format.

Anonymous said...

Hi Iain

I think you mean Mandy - not Many:)

Keep up the good work.

Dame Davina Pancake x

DWB said...

Who wants to wait until next year? Not me!

We need to lobby our MP's and insist they force a Confidence Vote in Gordon Brow
and then Vote NO!

Grown has got to go, as if B-liar wasn't bad enough, this dollop is worse!

http://www.gopetition.com/online/29638.html

http://downwithbrown.webs.com/

Stevo Bevo said...

Let's guess. One of Mandy's conditions will be Brown not having to answer any questions in the debate.

ken from glos said...

Already cancelled by Brown, I gather.

Too frit.

Verificiation, Flugspen!

pablopatito said...

"it's just the way our politics are done nowadays"

Except that its not. We don't do televised leadership debates. Its just the way you want politics to be done nowadays.

Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

It will certainly be interesting, but I get the impression that McDoom will not go ahead with it.

Also, the non-answers will be many and Cameron will have to really kick the man down with some unpleasantness to get counteract the tractor stats, otherwise it'll be like PMQs: tractor stats vs amusing putdowns.

Norton Folgate said...

At least in a debate Cameron's hands won't be tied by HoC protocols, he will be able to call Brown a liar to his face instead of just alluding to it.

Oliver Drew said...

I'd love to see Cameron, Brown AND Clegg engaged in a debate where they are asked questions by the audience.

Rather like the Question time event before the 2005 election, only with all of them on screen for the whole programme at the same time.

Mr Eugenides said...

Assuming it's Brown who is involved in the debate. At this rate, it'll be Mandelson - Cameron. Or Clegg - Cameron.

MiniMises said...

Live debates would be cool. They would also embarrass the complete non entity of Nicholas Cleggover because I assume he wouldn't be asked to take part.

On a side note, I have set up a new blog. I am broadly libertarian conservative, and I'd like people to insult me or congratulate what I say.

http://comradecapitalism.blogspot.com/

DMC said...

Every opposition leader wants to debate the sitting PM and then they become PM and they want nothing to do with it.

Margaret Thatcher said no to TV debates as she thought in a parliamentary system there was no need for them.

I agree with Iain that a debate for Cameron could result in his downfall.

Remember everything is a game of expectations and with many thinking Brown would be hammered in a debate that actually would help Brown/Labour as he would only have to put in a half decent performance and the papers would be saying that he did very well.

Plus Brown is not a bad debater, he has on a good few occasions made Cameron look like abit of a naieve school boy.

He who pays the piper calls the tune said...

Off topic:

This wet, miserable, weather in the West is not the barbeque weather the Met Office were told to spin by Broon's sidekicks as part of his "it's all getting better now" blagging.

Broon and bad weather go hand in hand, the sooner he goes the better.

As for people believing these long range climate forecasts and setting about screwing up our economy based upon their predicitions - laughably naive.

Anonymous said...

Don't be so hasty. They are risky things,

In general and in the abstract, you may be correct. In the specific case of a debate with Polyphemus Broon, not so much.

Like the song says, ordon is a moron. Gordon is much too much of a moron to carry off any live debate - we've seen this time and again. In a live debate, he'd simply regurgitate the same boring old Labour memes (=lies) over and over and over while contoring his gravedigger's face into spastic frowns and rictus grins.

norman said...

The Times On Line says the Downing St reporting that Brown is backing away!

Tory Outcast said...

Mandy wouldn't suggest it if he didn't have an ace up his sleeve surely?

Hopefully if it does happen it will be close enough to the election for Cameron to have set out a clear manifesto.

Also I think it was suggested to the Evening Standard first.

golden_balls said...

It's not in browns interest to do this although in the dying days of majors government he wanted one but was denied by Blair. I think a more interesting challenge would be cameron and Johnson. The snob and upper class tw*t would come out And would compare rather well with a down to earth person. He's not consumed by power. I stil think the slick cameron would beat him but it would be worth it to show camerons true nature.

Tom said...

I look forward to it. But I fear that Gordon will lie his way through the entire thing.

strapworld said...

Evening Standard says No 10 says NO!

Brown will only agree if he can debate with infant children- his usual tame audience!

Johnny Norfolk said...

Brown will NEVER do it mark my words. he has nothing to defend.

Instructional Design Ltd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mecpalois said...

A debate would be great, the only danger for Cameron is not shouting at that buffoon after an hour or so of lies.

Btw Iain, back in 2005 I thought DD had just bettered DC in the QT debate, but watching it recently all DD's flaws came out- inarticulate and adamamently wanting to write the 2010 manifesto in 2005. Without a shadow of a doubt the Tories would be unelectable now with DD as leader.

Lord Snooty said...

The only party that will agree to this type of debate is the one that has nothing to lose. I suspect that Brown will say yes and that Cameron will actually pull out - he is sufficiently skilled at PR that I expect him to be able to spin this as Brown's doing (e.g. 'unreasonable conditions attached' etc).

Remember that Blair, who was pretty TV-friendly and a good debater, never went near a televised head-to-head. The reason? He had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Cameron is now in exactly that position.

Anonymous said...

Looks like they're backtracking on Mandy already.

Cameron's other problem would be expectations management. Because everyone would assume he would walk it, he would have to land a serious blow to be declared the winner.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Pure Mandelson disinformation.
Please don't fall for his bull----

Hamish said...

Come on Iain,
You purport to be a writer.
The plural of Nokia might or might not be Nokiae, but it is not Nokia's.
I think your forte is the radio, heard and not seen, or read.

Anonymous said...

Clegg will have to be included to meet broadcasting rules.

haddock said...

"Pure Mandelson disinformation."

maybe, but did he say The Prime Minister would debate or did he say Brown would debate?
They may not be one and the same by the time the election is announced.
I imagine PM Mandy would quite like to take on Cameron in a TV debate.

Man in a Shed said...

A cold day in Hell surely ?

Still you can ask Mandelson for the correct term when you interview him.

Its all a rouse anyway. Mandelson is trying to redefine Labour as:

1) The Change makers.
2) The insurgents ( missing the tasteless aspect of that with coffins being unloaded from Afghanistan every day ).
3) The under dogs.

He's willing to agree to it as they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Stevo Bevo said...

It won't happen because Brown is obsessed (and has been for years) with the kudos of being PM.

He'd feel diminished by being put on the same level as Cameron and Clegg. Just another party leader.

I suspect Mandelson is hoping that Cameron will reject the idea out of hand and so appear scared of Brown.

It happened in 1997, didn't it? Blair demanded a debate with Major and, when Major said OK, Blair backtracked faster than a blogger falling to his knees to worship Mandelson's genius.

Man in a Shed said...

Slightly off topic but is it just me or does it look like Mandelson will have written the Labour manifesto before Brown gets back from Kirkcaldy ?

I wonder if its the POD who convinced him to go away for so long, so he could stitch him up nicely into his political straight jacket before he gets back.

Jonathan Cook said...

Brown has bottled it:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6731755.ece

Yak40 said...

Based upon the so-called "debates" here in the US, don't bother doing it there. In reality it's a complete waste of time where the media's darlings get a lot of softball questions.

In the UK, people can see the real thing at PMQs.

Obsidian said...

Sounds to me like Voldemort's setting Brown up for a fall.

Brown declines, and he looks cowardly and bad, he agrees and, well, he looks clunking and bad.

I think we've reached a point where the asp Brown's clutching to his chest has bared its fangs.

Rightsy said...

That's a shame, exactly the type of thing we need to get people interested in politics. Lets have political advertising on TV and radio as well.

We have a Presidential system of government whether people like it or not. The next General Election is almost totally based on the public's reactions to Brown and Cameron.

Would love to see a debate at the next Euro Election between Cameron and Nigel Farage! Somhow I don't think the Tories would be quite as up for that...

trevorsden said...

Mandelson is just saying the easiest thing to get by the moment in the interview.
Saying something which will run a headline. Saying something where the small print gives a get out clause.

Indeed all he is saying is that Brown would be OK IF there was an interview and using that to say Cameron is in fact 'superficial'. Its just a political quip.

Indeed The Times is reporting
"The Prime Minister’s political spokesman insisted that Mr Brown had not dropped his opposition to going to head to head with Mr Cameron during the campaign next year."

Arden Forester said...

It will be well worth the watching. A lot of air gulping from Brown, considering what he has to defend. A catalogue of betrayal, financial disaster and political chicanery.

If David Cameron has prepared a good list to get through, we might be in for a marathon. Either Brown retires exhausted (in fish out of water mode) or he waves the white flag!

Oh Mandy said...

I think Brown will be thinking this while throwing his nokia's about:

Will no one rid me of this turbulent Lord?

norman said...

golden_balls:
"I think a more interesting challenge would be cameron and Johnson. The snob and upper class tw*t would come out And would compare rather well with a down to earth person. He's not consumed by power".

Yes, down to earth like our postman who delivers mail once in 3 days and any complaint he is not seen at all!
Johnson says he does not lose sleep about Britain's population hitting 70 million. A good Home Secretary indeed. Well, if he is like our kindly postman, he is not responsible! He was wishy washy no good health secretary. Prepared the country well with tswine flu hotline! I wonder what that "equality" colleague of his thinks about him!

Anonymous said...

Mandy Opens the Door to Brown-Cameron TV Debate

- Bottler Brown slams it shut!

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6731755.ece

Anonymous said...

Now this is interesting !!

Maybe Peter Mandelson will make it a condition for the person leading the Labour Party into the next election to agree to televised debating..

Step forward, Ed Miliband !!

Thatsnews said...

Gordon Brown has firmly shut the door and slapped down our very dear First Secretary of State. Does Mandelson feel so powerful now that he feels he can just freelance on issues like this without even having discussed it with the man formerly known as the Prime Minister?

Yes. He does.

Anonymous said...

Just love the update, Iain!

Haven't you fallen in yet? Mandelson IS the prime minister. Brown is the front man. Without Mandelson, Brown's up a creek without a paddle.

And the reason for Mandelson's support? To ensure that the Lisbon Treaty is ratified before any future election.

Mandelson serves one master - the European Union, no one else.

cherami said...

A lot would depend on who the moderator was and if members of an audience were allowed to ask questions - oh yes, and how the audience was chosen.

It could easily turn out to be a PPB for Labour because Brown never answers questions and only repeats tractor statistics in a louder and louder voice. Difficult to win a debate against such tactics.

On balance, against it.

Anonybot said...

Sky News are still showing video of Mandelson saying that he welcomes live TV debates between the party leaders and that was followed up by Cameron saying if true he welcomes the chance to debate live on TV with Brown. So is it still on - according to Sky News it is but according to the Times Brown has "bottled" it !!

trevorsden said...

re your UPDATE - I do not think Mandelson was 'freelancing' - just being mischievous and trying to say that IF there were a debate brown would do well and expose (his idea) Cameron as being vacuous - no policies as opposed too the shedful of policies of the great leader.

You only have to pause for thought to see this idea is 'twatish'. But the press - you - get mired in the 'great debate' and do not criticise mandy for is distortion.

I am sure the Tories will have many policies by the time of the election and I struggle to think of one successful idea Brown has ever had. But mandy has avoided that question

Kalvis Jansons said...

I am looking forward to watching this.

David said...

Just sets up yet another put down at PMQs. Brown: "He never wants to debate policy". DC: "Oh yes I do but the PM won't." etc. Brown is really determined to close every door, its just plain weird. He lost the cuts/spending debate. Now he is conceding the substance debate. What a loser.

jamesmanning said...

With Mike Smithson wondering if this is the start of the PM4PM campaign, this is fascinating. Strange thing to say, too. Mandy will know of Brown's insistence that such a debate will not happen. To openly cross him in this way strikes me as more than just a mistake from a politician as astute as Mandleson.

Joe Public said...

Why should Mandy try to undermine Gordon, when he can get Dave to assassinate him instead?

Nicki UK (Trans Authoress) said...

What about the lib dems, they deserve to be on the same platform

Anonymous said...

Mandy is playing silly buggers in order to put pressure on Gordo.Should we get ready for Tony's boy to have another go or will he be firing blanks again?

Anonymous said...

Why on earth does Brown need Mandy's approval? It's nothing to do with him!

Ed the Shred said...

Speaking of live debates, I would highly recommend a live debate between David Cameron and Simon Heffer, chaired by yours truly Iain Dale.

Now that would be really worth watching as compared to a live debate between Cameron and Brown.

You know it makes sense Iain, please make it happen. :-)

Seriously!

Bill Quango MP said...

There is no possibility of a Brown/Cameron debate. none whatsoever.

Only an idiot would play to his most glaring, public weakness, which also happens to be his opponents most definable strength.

The equivalent of attacking your enemy by wading across a river into a swamp, into a minefield, in full view of the enemy artillery, whilst unarmed.

Lortd Mandelson knows better than this. He must have feared a trap question about 'courage'. I expect he thought he could say it today and it would be forgotten by next summer. But DC has written his letter. And GB will have to invent some nonsense to hide behind. 'Tradition' or 'cheapening democracy' probably.

Unsworth said...

@ golden_balls

"The snob and upper class tw*t would come out And would compare rather well with a down to earth person"

Usual Class War bollox. Inverted snobbery - as always.

Anonymous said...

Don't over rate Mandy. He's an attacking general, not a defensive one. Also he's fighting the second Gulf War with first Gulf War weapons. We're not still back in 1996.

Unsworth said...

Of course if Mandelson takes over from Brown - and that's possible - it would then be Mandelson vs Cameron.

When might such a debate take place, before or after the Labour Party Conference?

Anonymous said...

Farage would wipe the floor with Cameron or Brown.

Anonymous said...

Two socialists arguing about why our socialist economy is collapsing hardly inspires me.
Couldn't they do a celebrity death match instead? Cameron could gouge out Brown's good eye, whilst Brown could attempt to find Cameron's balls and squeeze them.

tankus said...

.....is the dark lord still batting for the other side ?

.... blairs side ..that is ?

Uncle Bob said...

And a letter from Cameron to ramp up the pressure on Brown and ensure another bad news cycle for Labour tomorrow.

Brown refusing is just going to annoy the electorate and cost him even more come the election and as has been previously stated, he's now got Brown on the hook for PMQ's when Brown inevitably trots out the 'He never wants to debate the issues' line.

norman said...

Simon Heffer is a ranter. Best to ignore him.

Dimoto said...

Cameron has a 15-20% poll lead.
Why would he want to give Brown any opportunity to gain credence ?
Brown is on TV almost every day, and most of the electorate do not like what they see.
Labour would just see this as an opportunity for more dirty tricks and stunts. Whatever the result, the BBC "experts" would declare Brown the winner.
It looks as if the "media advisors" are trying to (over) cook this one up.

Lord Lavendon said...

I was going to say something interesting, but my potatoes are boiling over and Dragons den is on...

kasou said...

Something smells fishy here, watch out for the snake.

What could Mandy gain by this ??

ian e said...

Any chance of asking DC to commit to this sort of prime-time debate leading up to future elections??

Opposition leaders always seem to call for a debate, PMs always refuse! Can we pin him down on this and establish a new precedent - should be good for democracy, whichever party is in power.

johnpaul said...

laobur could tell lies about the tories- but look at waht labour have said- Cameron said the tories would'nt cut spending on the NHS and david davis has said they would ,so who is lying

Stringy said...

Very easy way to set up brown, set up the debate, have a place for all the main parties lib/lab/con/ukip/greens etc and when the night rolls round and there is an empty podium where Brown should be....

(it would have to be party leaders only, no sustitutes i.e Mandy)

neil craig said...

If the BBC had a genuine commitment to public service broadcasting (& some guts) they would say they were going to have a debate, put up 2 chairs, or 3 or 4 & let Brown decide whether to leave his empty.

Sky could steal a march on them by doing so.

Chas said...

There is no way on earth that Brown would agree to a debate. It's got nothing to do with the fact that he would be utterly stuffed (by Basil Brush or Emu, let alone by Cameron) but all to do with Brown being a coward. Bullying and cowardice (two sides of the same coin) are Brown's defining characteristics. Cameron understands this, and that is why he has thrown down the gauntlet. He doesn't want a debate, any more than he wanted an election in October 2007, but he calls for them because he understands Brown and wins the fight by exposing his cowardice.