The Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, speaking on Sky News today seemed to let slip that the general election will be held on 6th May. This comes after Chris Bryant, the Europe Minister, seemed to let the same date slip out during a diplomatic meeting.
Many believe this is a concerted attempt by Labour planners to wrong foot the Tories and spring a March election at short notice. This would also allow them to forego another budget so avoiding potential embarrassment. That would make a short notice March election a very attractive proposition.
During the lead up to the next election there is now planned to be a live TV debate between the main party leaders along the lines of the US Presidential debates between the two main contenders.
But as you would expect there is much wrangling over the style and content of the debate.
Both the Prime Minister and Mr Cameron it appears want the debate to be totally free of audience participation. They don’t even want applause it seems.
But most controversially Mr Brown wants the audience to reflect the majority his party holds in the House of Commons, i.e. that there be twice as many Labour supporters in the audience than Tory supporters.
All these demands smack to me of desperation not just by Labour but by all politicians. The debate that promised robust debate will end up a sterile affair based on pre-scripted questions. Sounds to me like neither of the two main leaders now wants a proper scrutiny of their proposals. Are things going to be that bad post the general election?
Now, I’ve got a better idea. Anyone who is a member, or has been a member in the last year, of a political party should be banned from attending. No-one who has made a political donation in the last year should be able to attend either. The audience should then reflect the make-up of the population with low paid public sector workers taking a large number of places and pensioners taking their fair share.
Question Time would be a good model for this debate.
Audience participation should then be actively encouraged. Pea-shooters and catapults could be sold at the door together with appropriate ammunition. Megaphones should be made available too. Then maybe these politicians would truly find out what people think.