Cameron is not actually afraid of debating with outsiders. He is afraid of the record of the insiders.
What I’m about to write is not a wacky conspiracy theory. I have not got the time or resources or total mistrust in information to generate such a thing. However, it is a theory.
The current narrative for the nonsense surrounding the televised leaders debates is as follows. Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg both reckon that they can score big ‘we can be potential leaders of society because I am good at debating’ points through them. Cameron, on reflection from last time, did not benefit hugely, and is allegedly keen to prevent them occurring to empower the other parties. Broadcasters, having shown no bias towards UKIP for the last three years (having definitely not just gotten board of re-itirating that the Lib Dems supposedly lied for power and needing a more exciting ‘hook’ to keep politics exciting) have decided that Fromage Frey from UKIP should be included after getting some councillors up and down the country last year. Cameron is now even less keen because he will have to stand next to ‘a minor party’, and now thinks that we might as well give The Green Party a shot, but secretly (not secretly) wants the Greens there to make life harder for Labour and the Lib Dems and is not scared of the debates he just thinks that for a really fair game we should throw the Greens in.
Okay, admittedly, I have not summarised ‘the story so far’ as eloquently as a Game of Thrones episode’s ‘previously’ segment, but still, I’ve hopefully made it a bit of fun. However, even if I had written it more cohesively and used some of Russell Brand’s victorian language to spice it up, it would clearly still be nonsense.
I cannot be the only person who thinks that David Cameron is worried about these debates for reasons other than Ed Miliband’s alleged intellectual debating skills and Nigel Farage’s apparent barrage of populism.
He is either bluffing, or there is an entirely different reason.
Lets assume that he is not bluffing. It’s too strange of a bluff. Pretend not to believe in the effectiveness of these debates is a damn odd U-Turn to do twice. Trying to be presidential does not suit him. He is, for all intents and purposes, far from keen in engaging in these debates for another reason. A real reason.
Now, is it the inclusion of Vragril Fromage (Nigel Farage)? I don’t think so. Cameron’s avoided a one-to-one with the man in a way that Nick Clegg didn’t. He knows that Farage has the capabilities of being ‘the outsider’ and he knows that ultimately, it is his dissatisfied voters that are the main target of the Faragington parade, but wouldn’t he have changed Europe policies if he thought that was the big issue by now?
Is he afraid of Ed Miliband? Clearly not.
Then there must be someone else he’s afraid of.
The almighty Nick Clegg will rise again.
This is the angle no one in the press dare take the conversation in the direction in. After all, the contradiction is going to be too big for them to live down. Even the right wing press are struggling to take issue with the idea of letting the Greens have a platform. After all, once the Greens go up there and make the slightest anti-big-business proposal, the right wing press can call them the evil hypocritical lefties and all of that. However, the second Clegg gets on a stage and defends his record in government against David Cameron’s record in government what can the press do?
If the press is going to continue with the push to declare that the economy is recovering and the government has done right to make this happen, and then Clegg explains it was the 75% of Lib Dem policies that made it into the government agendas, can Cameron really continue to take the credit? In the debates, Clegg will no doubt declare all of the successes of this government and point out exactly how the Lib Dems made it happen. Every time Cameron does the same, he will have to acknowledge Clegg. The media elites can’t have their cake and eat it too and declare Clegg useless at the same time as disproving that almost every good thing this coalition has done has been down the Lib Dems. Increased levels of apprenticeships? Lib Dems. Poorest taken out of tax? Lib Dems. Decreased taxes on the wealthy? Clearly not a Lib Dem policy, clearly a Tory policy, so Clegg won’t declare pride on that.
Clegg can then, if he is clever, play himself up as enough of a statesman to speak with authority on foreign affairs without the EU being a farage-point-scorer. The upset that Farage believes he is achieving cannot occur without Clegg saying that the good things have occurred with him as an outsider.
Miliband and Bennett won’t be able to do anything about it either. Miliband will have to praise Clegg on the things he will want to agree on.
Am I defending Clegg on situations like food banks and minimum wage zero hour contracts? No, I am not. He is as accountable for the shifts in our economy that have made the poor poorer. But he is accountable more-so for us now having a stable economy much more than David Cameron is.
Of course, this is all conjecture. But if I were David Cameron, who would I be more worried about? UKIP’s sideshow that he will easily out fund and only suffer from in the short term? The bland Labour opposition? The Greens bringing enough left in to change the centre ground again? Or the man who’s been suffering in the polls for a long time, but easily been building up a narrative that will suddenly easily expose and explode in a way that if he denies, makes him look foolish. To deny Clegg is to deny the facts. Furthermore, Clegg knows Cameron. Clegg knows what being the junior part of the government is like. He can tell us everything wrong with the Tories once he’s freed from the government records. And once the Tories are out there too? What can they do? Disprove the economic benefits that the Lib Dems will proclaim? Say that the economy isn’t doing great like Clegg will have said? They will be trapped.
Maybe those debates will make no difference. Maybe they will make all the difference.
As the person who supposedly lost last time, Gordon Brown, said, ‘it’s up to you to decide.’