As the Rebecca Black phenomenon develops (google or go on twitter if you have yet to catch up on this comical story of nowhere to somewhere fast) last night I asked for other examples of people who went from total obscurity to sudden constant twittertrending.
Several people mentioned Nick Clegg and the impact he made after the first of the leaders’ TV debates before the last election.
And now inadvertently Clegg has opened up the question of whether he should be able to take part in the debates before the next election.
As he left a joint public meeting with David Cameron yesterday, and not realising his microphone was still on, he said ‘if we keep doing this, we won’t find anything to bloody disagree on in the bloody TV debates.’ So Lib Dem – the B word!
But seriously – why does he assume he should be there at all? It would frankly be ridiculous if two men who spend a whole Parliament saying they agree with each other suddenly pop up for TV debates pretending that actually they don’t.
It won’t actually do Clegg much good either, as it will serve as a powerful reminder that he says one thing before an election – I totally disagree with everything David says – and does another when he gets in power, namely whatever David tells him to.
It would be as ludicrous as having had, last time out, three lecterns with Gordon Brown at one, David Cameron at another, and Harriet Harman at the third one.
I was always amazed that the Lib Dems were given equal billing. When we were negotiating on possible leaders’ debates in 1997, even Paddy Ashdown did not believe he should be treated in the same way as TB and John Major. Why? Because he knew he had no chance of being Prime Minister.
The formation of the coalition, and the closeness of Cameron and Clegg, means the parties and the broadcasters should revisit the whole issue of TV debates and the form they take.
The starting point should be to rename them ‘Prime Ministerial debates’, and have on stage those of the party leaders who might become PM.
If Caroline Lucas, Nigel Farage and Alex Salmond aren’t required, nor is Clegg whose every answer, on current showing, will begin with ‘I agree with David’.