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Revealed: the secret debate rules

There were apparently about 80 rules agreed between the major parties about how last night’s TV debate should be conducted. We can reveal some of the rules for the first time – and they go a long to explaining why those viewers who didn’t switch channels had to endure what they did.

  1. All the leaders will be pompous white males in shiny suits with ludicrous ties that relate to their party’s colours.
  2. All the questions will be so anodyne that they wouldn’t frighten a pussycat.
  3. The Big Three will decline to inform viewers about the scale of the cuts in public spending they would make if in government.
  4. All three leaders will pledge to protect front-line services, while knowing that the budget deficit makes this impossible.
  5. Each leader will have a go at immigration levels, trying to steal votes from those thinking about voting for the neo-fascist BNP.
  6. No one will mention the word capitalism or criticise the system in any way that links it to the economic and financial crisis.
  7. No one will acknowledge that that the British state’s debts are larger in proportion to gross domestic product than Greece’s.
  8. Tory leader David (call me Dave) Cameron will talk about creating a “Bigger Society” when he actually wanted to say a “Big Society”.
  9. He will bang on about “efficiency savings” when he means cuts.
  10. New Labour leader Gordon Brown will speak like a programmed robot and wear a stupid grin from time to time.
  11. He will hector Cameron and viewers whenever he gets the chance.
  12. Brown will accept no responsibility for anything New Labour has done in 13 years in office.
  13. Cameron will sometimes look bewildered, wondering what he was doing in Manchester for the debate and thinking about the playing fields of Eton.
  14. Cameron will talk about “change” in such a vague way that he could be talking about what you get back after going to the local shop.
  15. Nick Clegg will boast that his party is different from the two “old parties” because it is new.
  16. Clegg will omit to say that the Lib Dems come out of the Liberal Party, which was one of the two major British parties from the mid-19th century until the rise of the Labour Party in the 1920s.
  17. He will also refer to the number of admirals there are relative to each warship (as if anyone cared) and the cost of a new police car.
  18. From time to time, the three leaders will agree with each other totally to show that when it comes down to it, there’s not much between them on policies.
  19. None will give a hint that behind the scenes they are secretly negotiating the terms of a coalition/national government that could well prove necessary after May 6.
  20. At the end of the 90 minutes (thank goodness there’s no rule about playing extra time), all three will shake hands.
  21. Cameron and Clegg will wander off the platform together, while Brown approaches frightened members of the audience.

For the masochists amongst you, there are two more of these events to come before polling day. Now you can see that our policy of hanging on to your votes is the only one guaranteed to keep you sane.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
16 April 2010

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