What we don’t know is whether such a debate is of sufficient interest to the TV networks for it to be televised on a terrestrial channel. Such a debate would need to be televised live on national TV for it to have any chance of adding any value, which in itself is not a mortal lock.
In any case, potential viewers may consider the debate to be a Third Division affair as the leaders of the main two parties are not involved. While EU enthusiasts and members of the Farage cult will be clearing their diaries, getting in the popcorn and wearing their colours for the ‘big match’, for most people this would probably be an event of very little interest or consequence.
It’s easy for many of those on the comment thread of the Spectator’s article to get carried away, as they are, predicting that Farage will bash Clegg. But the ‘debate’ could – and more than likely will – descend into a turgid ‘my fact vs your fact’ exchange that bogs the whole thing down and doesn’t do anything to inform people or increase their understanding and knowledge about how this country is governed, by whom and what little control they have to shape that governance.
There is also near certainty that Clegg will adopt the economics narrative and frame the debate in such a way that Farage, who famously doesn’t do detail, gets taken down alleyways, trips up on facts and is exposed as not being in command of his brief… and that’s before any possible failure to focus on the essential core political issue of addressing who should run Britain – if he actually even planned to do that in the first place.
This proposed debate has the capacity to undermine the EUsceptic cause if Farage gets it wrong. Being articulate is no substitute for a lack of strategic vision going into such a debate and will not make up for any deficiency in knowledge.