What an unholy mess the combination of Cameron's cowardice and OFCOM's strategists (frit and fumble) are managing to make of the TV leader debates
Let's get one thing clear.It's our right to see our leaders debate, trade hashtags and lock brains together. It's basic to democracy however much it might disrupt the carefully laid plans of the strategists to keep leaders on safe autocue scripts and if it shows leaders with feet, or brains, of clay too bad. Every democracy has them and even in Uzbekistan the President talks to himself for two hours with Tony Blair as interlocutor
The problem is only what combinations we fry the fish in. First essential is a debate between the two leaders whose parties can form a national government and offer a full team of candidates for that purpose.Two or three head to heads are essential. Cleggie of course will want to come in but he doesn't fulfil the conditions.Indeed he may not even be an MP and he certainly can't pull last time's trick of making all the easy promises because people now know he doesn't deliver on them.
Then comes the rag-tag and bobtail debates which should exclude the big two but include all the gang of five (a lakh of leaders as they put it in India) to wrestle in organic mud, tell us what they stand for (mostly anything for a job) and which major they'd do business with and how-coalition or confidence and supply.One programme will do but it should be replayed regularly during the following year of negotiations and uncertainty.
All this would be national but supplemented by regional and local matches between regional figures and constituency debates in tightest local marginals so the rest of us can see the calibre of those we're electing and give a thought to emigrating.