Channel Four and BBC’s Newsnight are vying to host a high-profile “chancellor’s debate” during the general election campaign, I’ve been told.
The event would see Alistair Darling, chancellor of the Exchequer, pitted against George Osborne, shadow chancellor, and Vince Cable, the Treasury spokesman for the Liberal Democrats. The presenters would almost certainly be Jon Snow (pictured) and/or Jeremy Paxman respectively.
All three have claimed that they are willing and enthusiastic to take part in such an event but negotiations are still going on over its exact format. There could even be more than one debate between the trio. (Apparently Question Time are also angling to do a chancellors’ debate).
I’m not sure who will come out on top – you may have your own opinion.
The plans come as the details are being thrashed out between the three parties and the BBC, Sky and ITV over the headline “leaders’ debates” which will take place through April.
Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are to go head to head on live television in three successive weeks in what is an historic first for the UK.
The negotiations taking place are edging forward over difficult questions such as who will comprise the audience, whether they will be allowed to ask questions and whether they may have to sit in silence.
One media source said that broadcasters were keen for a variety of other debates between other senior MPs likely to perform well. The most likely were between the foreign affairs spokesmen and – potentially – those with the education brief, he said.
The televised debates between Mr Darling, Mr Osborne and Mr Cable are to be scheduled so as not to clash with the leaders’ debate. Each will attempt to stake his claim over economic competence and responses to the credit crunch as well as policies for cutting the deficit.
In 1997 the then chancellor Ken Clarke debated against his shadows – Mr Brown and Malcolm Bruce – on a BBC programme called “Debate for Chancellor”. All three also appeared in turn on a Channel 4 programme called Power and the People.