I'm not a fan of TV debates in which the party leaders are encouraged to sneer and bark at each other like bare knuckle boxers. Inevitably these things are designed by broadcasters deeply biased towards the metropolitan political establishment, a social state in which the broadcasters have a privileged supremacy. The events are designed to show how powerful and important are the broadcasters, and how trivial our political leaders. Silly little bar stools, demeaning sets and intellectually inadequate presenters with little understanding of democracy and frequently an inability to chair either effectively or impartially the debate make the things a spectacle like those in which secret incestuous caravan-park relations are revealed before a studio audience. TV debates are all about the broadcasters.
'All politics is local' is not an aphorism understood by the BBC, ITV or Sky. As far as they're concerned, all politics is centred around SW1. For two years they've given us the bear pit of College Green, with its mentally-ill ranters and painted fools in the background, and a primitive forest of flags waving above the outdoor stages, a contrived palio of conflict designed to drive up the political temperature and crowd-out sense and reason from political debate. It's all about spectacle, about a gladiatorial knock-about. I'm sure that the parliamentary authority has offered a score of times to site temporary portacabins for the broadcasters on the river terrace and have been spurned - they want extremist behaviour, they want the threat of violence and they want noise, fear and the mob. It is the broadcasters more than anyone else who have whipped up the death threats, spittle and assaults on MPs and have deepened the division in the country. Do we really trust them to act any different in designing TV debates?
It is a truism that the best way to treat the broadcasters is to deprive them of the oxygen of publicity. To refuse to play their game. As Channel Four news has found to its cost. This is the most important election for almost a century - do we really want to contrive with the establishment TV barons in turning it into a game show?
And as any fair televised punch-up must include both the illiberal anti-democrats and BrexitCorp® I suggest that only making the nonsense both fair and equitable and agreeing a format that takes the heat, steam and hate out, in effect making the four-way debate a quiet, considered debate with no yowling studio audience and no black-tee shirted security guards to restrain the studio mob from attacking the guests is the only sensible way ahead.