It's going to be much harder keeping Farage out of the GE2015 debates pic.twitter.com/FamJJU9Muh
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) April 2, 2014
Unless Dave agrees he’ll be accused of running scared
The big consequence of last night’s widely perceived victory by Farage in the debate with Clegg is that it’s going to be a lot harder keeping the UKIP leader out of the leaders’ debates at GE2015.
Quite simply Clegg is now not in a position to object while Ed Miliband has already indicated that he wouldn’t oppose such a move.
So the ball will be in Cameron’s court and it will be a tricky one to play.
The initial plan was to rely on Farage’s exclusion because UKIP is not likely to be deemed by the Electoral Commission a “major party” at the general election. This means that the broadcasters don’t have to pay the purples the same attention as that given to the old three parties.
But after last night that is going to be a lot harder to sustain even if, as is highly likely, the EC refuses to give a party that didn’t win any MPs at GE2010 that status. Of course in the meantime UKIP could have won a parliamentary by election.
So the PM would have two choices. To go ahead with debates on the same basis as 2010 with the leader perceived as the loser last night included but the “winner” not there or to oppose the whole concept of debates
Whichever way he plays it Cameron will be accused time and time again of running scared of the UKIP leader and using the Commission as an excuse. That could become an issue itself in the run up to polling day.
Whatever it gives UKIP a great peg to argue on which will reinforce its argument about the whole system.
The genie is now out of the bottle.