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Why is Gordon Brown afraid to debate David Cameron? A politician is meant to debate. That is his entire raison d'etre. How can Gordon Brown be so hypocritical? A live TV debate between Brown and Cameron would be great for democracy and great for the nation. Bring it on!

I was delighted to see Nick Robinson on the BBC get to grips with the volte-face of Brown through the ages.

Especially in his political cross dressing admiring Lady Thatcher.

As for the debate question and his 'new style of politics'. Completely floored.

Cameron v Brown. Cameron would give him a very hard run for his money. Brown won't do it though but it has taken another big chip of his silly facade.

If the roles were reversed, Im certain that Cameron would be highly reluctant too. The problem with a debate like this, as Newsnight said, is that the PM gets reduced to the same level as the Opposition leader, and the PM gets no advantage, and if anything comes in at a disadvantage as they are expected to be better. The Opposition makes a mistake, oh well, the public tend not to be too worrying about it and can forgive as long as the mistake is slight. The PM makes a mistake, it could be fatal.

In the last ten years, on how many occasions - if at all - did Gordon Brown appear on Question Time? Any skilful practitioner of the art of not answering the question would normally relish the chance to show this off and enjoy the accompanying free publicity.

This is a question of democracy. Gordon Brown as prime minister must stand up on a live TV debate and put his case to the people. He must accept the scrutiny of the opposition leaders. Gordon Brown cannot claim to be in favour of a new and open brand of politics if he shuts the door on debate.

This is a question of democracy. Gordon Brown as prime minister must stand up on a live TV debate and put his case to the people.

"MUST"...rather OTT today Tony. He "must" do nothing of the sort. It is not a question of "democracy" whatever that might be. Stop trying to change the rules because of inability to win under the normal rules

A new kind of politics, consensual (so long as the consensus agrees with G. Brown), but it doesn't stretch as far as holding a debate with the opposition.
Is it me or is Brown beginning to look silly?
Making ludicrous statements of political intent that fall at the first test as there's no political advantage for Brown in a televised debate, only threat, this to a background of a younger Brown in 1987 cogently calling for a televised debate. Then praising Mrs. Thatcher as a means of attacking DC, when voluminous quotes of Brown being less-than-complimentary about Mrs T can be produced...

Loved the Nick Robinson piece last night saying explicitly that the only reason that Gordon Brown was saying nice things about Mrs Thatcher was to wrongfoot us. It will be very, very helpful if Gordon continues to expose himself as a tactician who is primarily focused on playing the game against his opponents (a low integrity approach to governing) rather than focusing on what is right for the country or what he genuinely thinks about a situation. Personally, I put Cameron in the opposite camp - someone who looks at what he really believes. If anything, he might be unusually nice - not willing to put the boot in! Hard to accuse GB of being nice...

BBC's Today said it's tradition that Opposition Leaders invite and Prime Ministers decline. They were more interested in the debate David Cameron faces over Ancram's criticism of vacuous reforms. Still, that's balanced coverage for you.

Gordon Brown is an unelected prime minister. He has no mandate. He needs to put his case to the people. Live television provides a form of direct democracy. Political debate right in a families living-room. Such a debate would create debate, within families, within friends. Isn't that what Brown wants? To engage the people?

Would you accept a debate if you were in Gordon Browns shoes, bearing in mind the risks of doing so?

I'd decline the invitation. Its far too risky.

BBC's Today said it's tradition that Opposition Leaders invite and Prime Ministers decline

It is. Sometime way in the distant past I seem to remember John Major turning down a TV debate....

If I were prime minister I'd jump at the chance to expose the arguments of the opposition. However it seems that Gordon Brown knows he can't nail those arguments. So he is afraid to have a debate. A proper live TV debate won't be like PMQs with the PM being fielded safe questions from Labour back benchers. Instead it would be a tough grilling with hopefully Paxman as ringmaster.

"Gordon Brown is an unelected prime minister. He has no mandate."

Tony, I agree with a lot of what you say, but you are wrong here. The mandate rests with the largest party; we do not vote for a Prime Minister.

John Major, marvel of consistency that he was, turned down a debate request from Kinnock in '92, and pleaded for one from Blair in '97. Blair of course said, thanks, but no thanks. Bearing out the saw that election losers ask for these debates, election winners laughingly decline.

David, you must agree that although not elected directly a prime minister must have a mandate to govern and must stand before the people in an open debate? PMQs is not a proper debate. It cannot cover a wide range of policy issues. PMQs is as good as stage-managed. Gordon Brown must be held up to scrutiny in a live TV debate with the opposition. Brown fears debate because he fears scrutiny, itsas simple as that.

"a prime minister must have a mandate to govern "

He has that mandate; as I said, the mandate rests with the largest group of MPs in Parliament. This happens to be the Labour party. The man who can lead them thus has the mandate to be Prime Minister.

As for the TV debate, it's a bit of politics. Generally sitting PMs tend not want to do it, was they have the most to lose. Other countries have a tradition of such debates, so they can't wriggle out of it. I certainly wouldn't object to a tradition starting here, and I think Brown is slightly hoist by his own petard with his call for a new type of politics coupled with clear statements in the past that such debates would be desirable.

David, the fact that Gordon Brown is a new in charge of what he claims is a new government means he needs to claim a new mandate. Through a general election which can be enhanced by live TV debate. As you say Gordon Brown is exposing himself as having double-standards in calling for more open government while at the same time refusing to engage in open debate with the opposition.

Cameron appears desperate but it was he who first proposed an end to "Punch and Judy" politics. Dave and Brown both lack consistency.

The country needs principled politicians with integrity. It is not surprising that turnout has been decreasing steadily since the Wets' treacherous coup against Maggie.

Cameron should be attacking Brown on his desperate record. Instead, he is adopting Gordo's tax and spending plans. No wonder Conservative members are livid and leaving in huge numbers!

"David, the fact that Gordon Brown is a new in charge of what he claims is a new government means he needs to claim a new mandate"

It doesn't at all. Under our system we elect MPs, and they form groups-the largest group has the mandate to form the government, whoever leads it.

Moral minority, a live TV debate is a chance to end punch,n,judy politics and engage in serious open discussion on policy. By his refusal to engage in debate Gordon Brown is showing that all his talk about open government is worthless.

If part of Gordon Brown's politics is to move away from Presidentialism, and back to traditional cabinet government, then that is a good thing and entirely consistent with knocking the idea of a televised debate on the head.

Those people who seriously argue that Gordon Brown has no mandate are making a meaningless case because in the British constitution, it is the Parliament which has a mandate and by extension its majority party. It is not given to the individual who happens to lead the majority party.

David, you appear to be missing avery important point. We have an unelected prime minister who is afraid to stand up and argue his case before the British people. Gordon Brown knows he can't use spin to manage a debate. Such a debate would be beyond his control. After ten years of controlled government it seems Brown has lost his political fighting instincts.

It is interesting how the BBC dug into the archieve to embarress GB. Is this the first time they've made any attempt to lay a glove on Gb since he became PM? Wonder if it has anything to do with his poll numbers coming down and it's the first time they've felt able to have a go.

David Boothroyd, A TV debate isn't about presidentialism. Its about the party leaders coming under scrutiny. A politician exists to debate. That is the essence of democracy. Debate equals accountability. Why shouldn't our voters have a chance to see such a face-off? I'm sure such a debate would work wonders for voter turnout.

"David, you appear to be missing avery important point."

No, I'm not.

"We have an unelected prime minister"

He is as unelected as any Prime Minister is. Once again, we do not have a direct election for the post of Prime Minister; we never have.

"who is afraid to stand up and argue his case before the British people. Gordon Brown knows he can't use spin to manage a debate. Such a debate would be beyond his control.

That may be the case, but that is an entirely seperate issue.

"After ten years of controlled government it seems Brown has lost his political fighting instincts."

What fighting instincts? If you look at his political history, a common theme is him shying away from any political battle which doesn't look like a sure thing.

David, however you choose to look at it Gordon Brown is an unelected prime minister. According to your rationale neither Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair ever won an election! I do believe that Gordon Brown once had bottle, as the old newsnight clip showed, he wanted to see Thatcher and Kinnock debate and put his argument across with passion. However the trappings of power appear to have dulled Gordon Brown's ability to fight. Now he wants everything stage-managed and laid on. All nice and safe. The fact is Brown is scared of facing Cameron.

"David, however you choose to look at it Gordon Brown is an unelected prime minister. According to your rationale neither Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair ever won an election"

No, according to my rationale, the parties won the election, and the head of the parties became Prime Minister. Neither Thatcher nor Blair faced direct elections-the only people who voted for them where in their constituencies. If you claim Brown is an unelected PM, then so are they, since they filled the position on exactly the same basis and mandate as Brown. It's simply how our system works.

David, let me ask you straight. Would you like to see a TV debate between Gordon Brown and the major opposition leaders? If not why?

I already said " I certainly wouldn't object to a tradition starting here".

I'm sure the Beeb or C4 would do Ming vs DC debate - with perhaps an empty seat for gordo.

DC should go for that - would highlight what a coward GB is.

David Cameron is the "unelected" Leader of the Opposition drawing a salary as such.

Brown has been an MP since 1983 and can command a majority in the House of Commons and pass Money Bills.....ergo The Monarch appoints him Prime Minister just as King George VI appointed Winston Churchill in May 1940 against his own preference for Lord Halifax....just as Anthony Eden succeeded Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan succeeded Anthony Eden or John Major succeeded Margaret Thatcher

If you want to adopt the Israeli system of directly electing a Prime Minister then parties are finished and an elected PM can simply select his Ministers since he will have a mandate to govern in his own right

During the 1997 election campaign Gordon Brown took part in televised debated with the then Chancellor, Ken Clarke and the Lib Dem finance spokesman.

Brown was unable to summarise the debate, he had to rely on a pre written speech (rant), which had no real bearing on the debate - Clarke wiped the floor with him.

Brown was hopeless.

The CCHQ should also be pushing for, as in in 1997, the Home Secretary, The Chancellor & the Foreign Secretary to take part in a televised debate as well!

Osbourne vs. Darling
Davis vs. Smith
Hague vs. Milliband

The Conservatives would do well against this line up - lets expose them for the light-weights they are.

Personally, i would like to watch a debate btwn GB and Alex Salmond! My money would be on Salmond! Why oh why can't we have a conservative leader with as much charisma and political gall as Salmond (and yes, i am hinting at a bit more English nationalism)? True, AS may talk 24 carat crap, but by-heck, he is a class act.

It is hardly sufficient for Brown to claim that PMQs is a debate; it is nothing of the sort. It is a charade in which there is little that can pass as debate and the present Speaker makes no attempt to force the PM to reply properly to questions.

A televised debate between the three main party leaders would be very illuminating but I can see why Brown has refused.

Having noticed Gordon Brown has acquired Macavity as a moniker, I thought I would refresh my memory. Hysterical!! With Tim's forbearance, I must share it with any non poetry readers.

Macavity: The Mystery Cat

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw -
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's depair:
For when they raech the scene of crime - MACAVITY'S NOT THERE!

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime - MACAVITY'S NOT THERE!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air -
But I tell you once and once again,MACAVITY'S NOT THERE!

Macavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake.
Macavity,Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square -
But when a crime's discovered, then MACAVITY'S NOT THERE!

He's outwardly respectable.(They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's.
And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair -
Ay, there's the wonder of the thing!MACAVITY'S NOT THERE!

And when the Foreign Office find a treaty's gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair -
But it's useless to investigate -MACAVITY'S NOT THERE!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
"It MUST have been Macavity!" - but he's a mile away.
You'll be sure to find him resting, or a licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity. Macavity, there's no one like Macavity.
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
At whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!

And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: The Napoleon of Crime!

Sort out your analogies for yourselves folks!! Gordon is indeed very well named. He IS MACAVITY!!!

An hilarious thread on labourhome at the moment entitled 'Thatcher, a necessary evil?' Well worth a visit.


Ming Campbell is claiming Cameron's a "johnny-come-lately" about televised debates. He is completely wrong: http://culturewarrior-uk.blogspot.com/2007/09/silly-old-ming.html

Nick, yes, it would be good to see other leading government and shadow ministers in a face-off. Hague Vs Milliband would be interesting, if only to see how Milliband would cope! I certainly agree with you that Brown is hopeless in a fast-paced debate. He is too stodgy. He couldn't cope with Cameron and Campbell laying into him and Paxman pinning him to give straight answers. The pressure to get Brown into debate must grow.

rd is absolutely right. Hey Ed, if you thought the comments on here are nasty, see what the lovely lefties are getting up to - quite hilarious really; at one level, you've got their Leader trying to sell himself as another Thatcher, whilst his 'roots' are busy painting her as the most evil thing that walked the planet... Nice to see a bit of effective joined up thinking in the Labour ranks. Brown must be very proud!

Cllr Adam Tugwell, the standard of debate on Labour Home is poor to say the least, even juvenile. Their attempt to portray Boris as a racist was laughable. The great thing about Conservative websites is that the level of debate is challenging. No-one is allowed to get away with talking crap here.

Tony, I'm with that. Reading the complete pile of trash I have just seen puts a lot of perspective on the difference between Conservatives and Labour. Perhaps a few more of us should have a gentle stroll through their blog pages from time to time, as it will serve as a fitting reminder between reasoned political thinking and the total hatred which clearly fuels a good many of their number.

The difference is chaps that on Labourhome the people who trash Brown are nomarks who have no influence and no ability to get their voices heard outside their tiny weblog. The people who make trouble for us like Heffer (who even by his low standards excelled himself today in vitriol and bile)often have a large and in the case of the BBC a willing audience

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