And will it help Clegg and the Lib Dems?
This morning Nick Clegg has challenged Nigel Farage to a live debate on Britain’s membership of the European Union before May’s elections.
I wonder if this the new approach is to do with the fact that senior Lib Dem MPs such as Tim Farron are publicly warning that the party’s “very presence in the European Parliament could be at stake” as it contends with poor opinion poll ratings that consistently put the junior coalition party behind UKIP. Every pollster bar Ipsos-Mori has them in fourth place behind UKIP in Westminster voting intentions.
It would give Clegg and the Lib Dems visibility to carve out a distinct position from their coalition partners, and an ability to hoover the Pro-EU vote in the country, which recent polling shows is nearly evenly split about remaining or leaving the EU. What they have done so far clearly isn’t working in the polls.
UKIP’s Director of Communications has responded and from my initial reading of this, is they will only accept if Ed and Dave are also invited.
Last night I spoke to a Lib Dem activist friend in Sheffield Hallam and the conversation turned to the matters of the EU one of the things that struck me, and I haven’t appreciated in the past, one of the reasons why Nick Clegg is a committed and passionate supporter of the European Union, for his mother is from the Netherlands and his wife is Spanish.
A Clegg v Farage debate would make for fascinating viewing, we all remember the last time Nick Clegg took part in some debates with other party leaders, he’s very good at them.
If Farage doesn’t take part, I think there will be a downside for him, it will make his complaints about not being included in the 2015 debates a bit hollow if he’s not prepared to debate with the Deputy Prime Minister (and Leader of the Liberal Democrats) over the EU.
Some in the media are already goading/teasing Farage if he doesn’t accept Nick Clegg’s offer.
So @Nigel_Farage, do we dust down the Mirror Chicken suit?
— MirrorJames (@MirrorJames) February 20, 2014
All eyes (or should that be ears) on Nigel Farage on LBC tomorrow morning.