Plus ça change…

Maybe I should not be so surprised. Word hits the newspapers that the planned Leaders Debates prior to the next UK general election have been “negotiated to death

I dare say this quote was spoken in the same style as a soap opera “baddie”, who having pushed his wife down the stairs assures a worried sibling that “Mummy just slipped.”

Labour didn’t want these debates in the first place. That much was obvious by the very slow reaction – such as it was – from Gordon Brown. His bulldozing interview technique would have killed any spontaneity in the debates anyway, had the audience not been filled by party hacks and ordered not to ask questions.

In the US, Presidential Debates are often stifled by rules and contracts as thick as Whitaker’s Almanack. What a pity the UK version has gone the same way. There is a lot more to do by way of attracting audiences to politics in general, never mind specific television programmes, so although the debates were flawed in theory they could have done some good in practice.

Critics of the Leaders Debates always assumed the UK model wouldn’t fit. “It would be like being caught wanking to ‘Pants Off, Dance Off'”, that sort of thing. My optimism for all things modern, new, and different looked at these televised debates with less cynical eyes; in good hands, all three leaders would have seen their reputations enhanced. David Cameron could have even been shown real-time repeats of his previous answers to assist in stopping his usual trick of contradicting himself mid-programme.

Alas, these events are clearly not likely to happen. If the suits don’t get in the way, either the Champions League or just-as-vital-no-really Eurovision Song Contest are scheduled for the run-up to polling day. Another small glimmer of modernisation in UK politics is extinguished.

….plus c’est la même chose.