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Brown will take part in debates

Nick Robinson | 09:03 UK time, Wednesday, 30 September 2009

"I've decided in my own mind," Gordon Brown told Jim Naughtie on the Today programme this morning.

He was talking about whether to take part in television debates.

So it is now clear. He's going to do it. We just have to wait to see when he'll get round to telling us - and in exactly what format these will take place and when they'll begin, assuming all the other hurdles can be cleared.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Nick is this really the biggest non-story of the day?

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh dear! Why does he not just fade gracefully?

  • Comment number 3.

    Forget the debates - why not hold an general election and let the people express their views?

  • Comment number 4.

    'Brown will take part in debates'.

    Thats todays announcement though, plenty of time for U-turn before anything is finalised.

    Actually, if i was gordon and given todays news about the Sun, i'd tell murdoch to stick his debate.

    Think about it, how can SKY possibly run a fair debate, when another arm the same media organisation has openly declared support for the tories?

  • Comment number 5.

    Yeah Nick get the debate one here YOU ARE THE BRITISH CORPERATION?

  • Comment number 6.

    What other 'hurdles'? Sounds like a cop-out clause. If the GE is to be next year, then it's way too early to be talking about debates (maybe Brown is hoping we will all forget about debates by then). Or is an election about to be called? I sincerely hope so. I have always voted Conservative, I hate the socialist agenda, and crave for a return to free enterprise and less state intrusion in my life.

  • Comment number 7.

    So what and dont hold your breath. GB would be better deployed crafting a succession plan - preferably before the next general election. If he is not minded to go then perhaps he could look at all the New Labour policies and replace them with Real Labour policies.

  • Comment number 8.

    Will he go up against X Factor and Strictly in the ultimate ratings battle?

  • Comment number 9.

    So all three paties now want debates - what do you want to bet they never come about?

    I'd guess they will make a big fuss about wanting to have these debates, but in the end refuse to accept the other parties conditions and everyone will blame each other for the fact the debate never took place.

  • Comment number 10.

    "So it is now clear. He's going to do it. We just have to wait to see when he'll get round to telling us - and in exactly what format these will take place and when they'll begin"

    Indeed Nick. A mouthwatering prospect.

    So long as they're not in the same format as the current PMQ's, with a chairperson who is not going to allow obfuscation from any of the participants, it should make for interesting, albeit car crash, TV.

    "We just have to wait to see when he'll get round to telling us..."

    Yes... brings a scene to mind.....

    "Now, where did I see that long grass? Ah, yes. ++HOOF!++ There. That'll do it. Hello? Is that the G20 Recruitment Desk? Aren't you looking to recruit your first paid Secretary General? Yes, I'd like to apply. My name? Brown. James Gordon Brown. Can you send me an application form please?"

  • Comment number 11.

    And will the BNP get a part in this Punch and Judy show? It could have the part of the crocodile, that should please the biased BBC.

  • Comment number 12.

    This is all part of the carefully calculated politic spin. But it still reflect well on Brown to have live debates.

    I have this nagging feeling that the Mr. Hobson who pull the strings behind our political parties and politicians are putting on an entertaining show of the horses he will let us choose, or not.

  • Comment number 13.

    Same story as yesterday from yesterdays man......

  • Comment number 14.

    "So it is now clear. He's going to do it. We just have to wait to see when he'll get round to telling us"

    Nick, I am afraid you are wrong.

    Brown has now taken to lying to himself!

    He thinks he will do it (he has made the decision in his own mind), but he won't tell anyone otherwise plans could start to be made. Then he will not be able to back out at the last moment saying nobody could agree on a format.

    He knows that he plans to do that too, but is convincing himself he won't.

    He should read a book on Courage.

  • Comment number 15.

    Well at least that's settled then.

    Perhaps when Gorodn Brown appears on the live TV debate he can address the issues he chose top ignore yesterday despite being on his feet for an hour.

    How is it physically possible to go in increasing public spending faster than economic growth?

    Why was there a complete failure yesterday to tackle the goverment's fiscal crisis that has arisen from growing publice spending faster than economic growth for the past eight years?

    Why were all of the new spending announcements yeasterday uncosted?

    These three questions go to the heart of the lie that is newlabour; that newlabour have found a way to spend money when the tories can't seem to find where the secret money pit lies.

    Where was the reform of the public sector that is so badly needed?

    Where is the action on public sector pensions to bring them down into line with the private sector?

    Who came up with the lies about crime?

    Gordon Brown and newlabour are now utterly fdetermined to lie their way into even whatever result they can achieve. Never mind the national finances; never mind the savres, never mind the workers; just carry on spoon feeding the needy and workshy.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 16.

    Can we believe him, there is not a great deal he says that can be believed. Will he in fact be around to take part in debates,as the gap now widens between Labour and the Conservatives his chances of remaining as Labour leader diminish.

  • Comment number 17.

    Won't happen Nick. These are last, desperate throws of the dice by Brown, but regardless, I am firmly convinced he won't lead Labour into the next election. Doesn't mean a televised debate won't happen - it just won't be with Brown. That said, it would be fun watching Brown trying to duck and weave his way through such an event!

  • Comment number 18.

    At 0734, Brown said on Sky News, "Put to him that he couldn’t make up his mind about participating in a TV debate he said: “Nothing about not making up my mind. There is a time for that, and it is not now." By 0903, Gordon has,"decided in my own mind". So what has happened in the intervening 149 minutes to change his mind? Gordon Brown dithering? Perish the thought!

  • Comment number 19.

    So thats clear then Nick. Why then, when ask in an interview with Sky this morning would he not answer the question? Nothing new there I know but why not just confirm he is going to take part? The longer he leaves it the more of a story it becomes.

    Perhaps more relevant would be for you to ask where all the money is coming from to create this new heathcare system. Or the homes for pregnant mums.

    Perhaps in his "dream for the future" you dont need money!

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.


    "Actually, if i was gordon and given todays news about the Sun, i'd tell murdoch to stick his debate."

    Pretty much what he does already in the HoC at PMQ's every week to the rest of electorate and his fellow elected members...

  • Comment number 22.

    If it goes ahead I suspect I will be looking at a rerun of Nixon circa 1959 on one of his good days. I was reasonably old then, so the prospect of Brown and his jaw-dropping antics means I will have to spend the time while he is on watching re-runs of Monk.

  • Comment number 23.


    Good idea, Brucie can do all the tired old jokes, Ben Bradshaw can take the part of Craig Revell-Horwood, Jack Straw can pretend to be Len and Lord Minky finally gets his dream to be a contestant!! Dunno quite what Louis Walsh would do yet.... Not sure I want to contemplate that actually...

    Add to using Simon Cowell as the chairperson - now theres someone who wouldnt put up with any flim-flam - the only dodgy bit is who would you trust to add up the public votes, as both BBC and ITV have had their wrists slapped in the past for er... irregularities?

  • Comment number 24.


    It ain`t going to happen - always read the fine print with Gordon. If you were in charge of the election campaign would you want to put Gordon up in front of the cameras? His hizzy fit this morning was bad enough (see Evening Standard) so imagine what his temper will be like in a few months time. Just showing Brown on tele is bad enough nowadays - imagine what a live debate will do to NuLabours election chances. His wife would do a better job than him - then anyway anyone probably would!

  • Comment number 25.

    He has decided in his own mind. But has decided not to tell us what that decision is.
    Wow. More positive, straight from the shoulder, tell it is how it is, decisive thinking there then!

  • Comment number 26.

    Oh I hope it happens, Brown will look even more useless than he is already,i bet he will get a right old pasting.

  • Comment number 27.

    I stick by what I said last time ... Mortimax will be the one trying to find ways out of it ... watch this space

  • Comment number 28.

    Further evidence of his inability to communicate in any simple and direct manner, or answer the simplest question put to him in a straightforward manner.

  • Comment number 29.

    Don't we already have a TV debate with Question time. This is a non news item. I assume with recent Sun events Webcameron will want the debate on Sky (to say thank you to Osborne's mate).

  • Comment number 30.

    Perhaps NR can shed some light, or ask the TV debaters to shed some light on Gordon Brown's claims yesterday that newlabour would beat cancer but the tories wouldn't?

    Alos, perhaps Gordon Brown could tell us why they are holding back on curing cancer when medics and drug companies would be shouting from the roof tops if they had cured cancer; why is Gordon Brown keeping it for himself rather than telling everybody?

    This was newlabour hyperbole at its finest; it's okay to ignore the facts if it 'plays well'. I suspect it's playing rather badly with all the cancer patients in the UK this morning who, if they had the strength, would be calling 10 Downing Street immediately to get the answer.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 31.

    This TV debate is absolutely pointless unless ther are strict rules in place i.e :-

    No lying
    No evading the question
    No getting the hump and walking out
    No talking over each other

    Get my drift?
    It won't happen and if it does it wil be no different to PMQ's and that has been rubbish all year.
    The problem is ALL these people cannot do any of the above. I personally don't think a lot of what people dislike in politics is policy. It's the people. I think this country could do with real people to run the country, not the breed of person that currently does and that goes for all parties. When I see MP's, meet MP's and watch them on the TV I often ask myself whether I'm the odd one but I soon realise that i'm not. It's them. I do't know where they come from, how they were brought up or what actually happened to them when they were younger but I shudder when I see them to think these people are actually in charge of our great country. Get rid of them and get the normal people in.
    People who CAN do all of the above.....

  • Comment number 32.

    There should, and will, be a debate on each of the main terrestrial networks, the BBC, ITV and Sky. There may even be one to compensate Channel 4/Five. In all there will be three, or possibly even four debates. Brown will not agree to one, and only from the Murdoch Machine at that. He will want to wipe the floor habitually with Cameron and Clegg, and probably sees it as a key tranche of his strategy to successfully close the gap to the Tories.

    I stand by my comment yesterday. This is an amazing blunder by the Tories. Even if they are confident that they have a man with more charisma and appeal, what we can learn from years of debates in America is that voters more often than not see them as unconvincing, and actually draw the candidates together to the extent that "thay are all as bad as each other."

    Brown will argue successfully that there should be at least three debates to compensate all networks, perhaps even four, and Cameron will flounder across all 3/4 debates, getting worse and desperate as each passes. This is the nature of having limited experience, no detailed policies, no apparent conviction and no track record to point to. Brown can point to all of that and a record of acting decisively during the financial crisis. An economic turnaround in time for next June might just close the gap to the point where the Tories could lose their seemingly unassailable position. However then again, old Middle English prejudices could die hard and they'll opt from the upper crust Man from Eton as he is more in tune with everyday life.

  • Comment number 33.

    "So it is now clear. He is going to do it"
    Nonsense. It is not clear at all. Brown has said he has decided in his own mind but not said what he has decided. He is just as likely to have decided in his own mind (is it possible to decide in someone else's mind?)not to take part in TV debates.
    And why is this not the time to say what he has decided? The only logical conclusion is that he has either not made a decision or wants to be able to change his mind without admitting to it. If he does not say what he has decided now then he can say anything in the future and claim it is what was in his mind all along. Shades of the 2007 election that never was!

  • Comment number 34.

    I reckon he'll get Sarah to cover for him. She know all the lines, including my favourite: "He goes to bed at night, and he gets up in the morning..."

  • Comment number 35.

    any debate is only meaningful if the participants are honest and tell the truth. Any discussion is meaningless if one person say "We will do X, Y and Z" when they have no intention of doing that (e.g. "We will have a referendum on the EU Constitution" and then the just don't).

    For one party, experience has taught the British people not to trust what their leader says. He may say it thinking he means it but when it comes to it, it just does not happen.

    Similar, those participating need a clear knowledge of what actually happened in the past and not to start claiming that black is white and e.g. "I always wanted tighter regulation of the banks" (despite many recorded quotes of him boasting about "light touch regulation".

    With such a Jeckle and Hype participant I cannot see how any debates could be meaningful - but they might give us all a good laugh and some more classic comments (e.g. a 0% increase).

  • Comment number 36.

    It was a good speech that has been kept on the front pages by The Sun story. Now this debate question will keep the attention on Labour. All the economic news is now going Labour's way. The VAT cut was such a good idea that business is asking for more, the scrapage deal is being extended and what are the Tories offering a tax cut on inheritance tax for the rich.

  • Comment number 37.

    Its not getting him to do a debate its getting a meaningful answer out of them thats the problem, and then when they give the answer they will change it at a later date......non event for many thats for sure.

  • Comment number 38.

    Does anyone really believe Brown?

    I have made up my mind but I won't tell anyone yet sounds to me like a stalling tactic.

    If you are going to take part in the debates why not tell people? Not telling anyone his decision just makes it look like he hasn't made one yet and plays into the hands of the Tories who accuse him of being a ditherer who can't make a decision about anything. The problem for Brown that if he decides not to do the debates he will look like a coward who is afraid to face Cameron and Clegg in an open debate.

  • Comment number 39.

    Let's put aside opinions about Brown's personality and focus on the main issue that will be debated.

    At the moment Brown does not have a consistent line on reducing the national debt.

    All through the summer Brown ran the Tory cuts v Labour investment line, though this was directly contradicted by the Budget small print (cuts in spending of nearly 10%).

    Then recently Brown seemed to be moving away from this position, only to have raved about further Labour spending in his Conference speech (whilst being careful to make few concrete proposals).

    Clegg (yes, he's the leader of the LibDems) is also all over the place with his mixture of savage spending cuts, uncosted tax cuts, and doubts on various spending policies such as tuition fees.

    The Conservatives have not yet pronounced on the scale and nature of the coming cuts. So we can watch their conference to see if futher light is shone.

    P.S. Sagamix. Thanks for your kind words in the previous post. Definitely my favourite Labour blogger. GSOH and all that. You will be pleased to hear that most of 'The Sun' is now at the bottom of my rabbit hutch, but I've kept the political pages to quote on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

  • Comment number 40.


    the trouble is stuff like this new 'Foyer' scheme which is going to place young girls in supervised accomodation, a new idea. The trouble is that there are hundreds of these already up and running, with the partnership of the Guinness Trust. We have one down here in the Bradshaw consituency of Exeter.

    I am not saying whther they are a good idea or a bad idea, what I do say is that it is funded by charity, by local residents through their local taxes, and also by central government. These are not a new idea, they will or will not be in the manifesto, they already exist. Not a new idea, neither is the National Care service.

    What you have to do is to look at the Department of Health eligibility criteria 'Fair access to Care services'. I am looking forward the conservative conference next week, I think that they will confirm that the changes to Inheritance Tax will not form part of their manifesto, it is not a u-turn, it is the fact that as Brown so loves to point out this is a new situation. Also let us not forget the changes which labour has made to the IHT rules, they have lost billions because of those changes. Same with the 10p tax rate, the poor have suffered the most.

    Also the link for pensions to wages is not acceptable, I do not know peoples wages, I do not trust the statistics, even then wages are falling, prices are rising for pensioners, yet what will be the increase in state pensions this year. We need to understand that the RPI does not reflect the real situation, prices for pensioners are not falling. So, I want to hear a proper debate on pensions.

    Finally, I really cannot understand how anybody can have worked so hard in their life that they have actually earnt any pension in excess of GBP50,000, their must be a limit, and any pension over the aforementioned sum should be heavily taxed.

    I want to hear about the abolition of National Insurance, that it should be merged with Income Tax, no allowances, one flat rate tax. Now that would be fair, that would be equal.

  • Comment number 41.

    Brilliant, maybe you can get trinny and susannah to comment on what they're wearing. One of the thousands of psychology graduates who want to be on telly from BBC 3 to discuss body language. Maybe the BBC can campaign for a Saturday night gameshow next?

    What I think would be far more useful would be to gather members of cabinet and shadow cabinets for a televised mass debating event to argue out the way forward for Britain. Although maybe not.

  • Comment number 42.

    Lets not get bogged down, Have John Barrowman has the host and question master. Then afterwards the loser on a phone vote can go on to Hole in the Wall.

    For me there are no alternatives that shine out, only in a bad light.

  • Comment number 43.

    Brown will not debate. He will make the conditions so ridiculous that no reasonable person would accept them- questions known in advance/him to speak last each time etc. It’s not going to happen and I’m a bit surprised you think it will. I can only guess that you’ve been told off the record it will in which case I would ask you to remember the press conference when Brown stated he’d had no plans to replace the chancellor, when you and your colleagues know full well he had.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hmm, that's all I need: a mass debate of politicians on my screen.

    But tell me, why on television? They have these debates in Parliament every day?

  • Comment number 45.

    "Also the link for pensions to wages is not acceptable, I do not know peoples wages, I do not trust the statistics, even then wages are falling, prices are rising for pensioners, yet what will be the increase in state pensions this year. We need to understand that the RPI does not reflect the real situation, prices for pensioners are not falling. So, I want to hear a proper debate on pensions."

    Fully agree and perhaps there should be a 3rd index for pensioners reflecting just how they spend their money. Most are forced to spend it on just food, energy and the seriously unfair Council Tax, with perhaps a luxury thrown in here and there. They don't buy iphones and other gadgetry every week, nor clothes at the same rate as a working person. I'd like to see this debated properly.

    Likewise it's high time the Council Tax was reformed on a fairer basis. In our street we have two people living side by side, a pensioner on about £100/wk (£5200 pa) and a doctor who pulls in about £130,000 pa. They pay the same Council Tax. Hardly fair on the less well-off. Will they debate that?

  • Comment number 46.

    He has decided in his own mind, but won't tell anyone else until...?

    I think that you put too kind a spin upon proceedings Nick

  • Comment number 47.


    There is only one person I want to see....

    Bring on Clarkson!

  • Comment number 48.

    Highly amused at sagamix's (27) desperate effort to plant the "Mortimax" seed, yet again. Does childish name-calling really benefit Labour? I don't think so. And then as well, the concept that it will be Cameron who ends up being the one trying to duck out of the debates. Wrong there, I think.

    Actually, I heard the interview with Brown, and I came to the opposite conclusion from Nick. These debates risk being car-crash TV for Brown, and the only way he can recover from the damage they will do him is to have them early. Likewise, he would have just a smidgen of a chance of portraying Cameron as light on policy if the debates were to happen before the Tories have produced their manifesto. Once the manifesto has come out, however, I suspect the moment will have been lost.

    Brown indeed said he had made his mind up, but he would not reveal the answer yet. I think he is just playing for time while his advisors think up a credible excuse. Brown may also have half an eye on the tactic that while the Tories think there may be a debate, then they will be devoting at least some resource to planning their part in it - which will then be wasted when it emerges that the debate, in fact, will not happen.

  • Comment number 49.


    Congratulations on getting those words past the moderators. Very funny.

  • Comment number 50.

    45. At 12:01pm on 30 Sep 2009, atrisse wrote:
    .......Likewise it's high time the Council Tax was reformed on a fairer basis. In our street we have two people living side by side, a pensioner on about £100/wk (£5200 pa) and a doctor who pulls in about £130,000 pa. They pay the same Council Tax. Hardly fair on the less well-off. Will they debate that?
    There was a system like that once upon a time. It was called Poll Tax.
    The populace rioted to get rid of it.

  • Comment number 51.

    44. At 11:51am on 30 Sep 2009, atrisse wrote:
    Hmm, that's all I need: a mass debate of politicians on my screen.

    Mass debate - is that the new group name for MPs? I can think of a much shorter equivalent....

  • Comment number 52.

    I'd like to commend James Naughtie on his interview this morning. I usually compare him unfavourably with the Humphries and the Davies, as he has been too close to Labour in the past. He was very good this morning. Of course he didn't get all the answers that he wanted - specifics, I mean - but it was pretty good!

    I agree with other posters: I don't know what is in Mr Brown's mind. But Nick seems very sure, so I assume that he had some off-the-record briefing. I wish the whole electorate was in this cosy Westminster/Conference circle of knowledge.

  • Comment number 53.

    its simples

    go election

    no need for a debate then

    work it out

    a state of emergency will be declared first by N10

    The glorious leader will have to take full control as the state we
    are in. unless

    the forces and MI5/MI6 are ploting a coup just like the late 70s'.

    to get rid of this shambles

  • Comment number 54.

    Having lost the support of the Sun tabloid, Brown now needs even more to get into the media and appear on TV as often as possible to defend his policies and long-term achievments. Some fellow commentators will no doubt now jump up and down and ask 'What achievements'? In this case, just listen to yesterday's speech of Gordon Brown. Why did Brown loose the support of the 'Sun'? Hmmmm. Why could that be?
    Because in-depth analysis of political history and global financial systems has convinced its readers that it is time for change? Clearly not, as most 'Sun' readers prefer to be entertained and tranquilised by booze, boobs and football. There is nothing new under the sun since Roman times. Give the plebs bread and games and keep them quiet whilst a corrupt elite runs away with the wealth of nations. This is the society that Rupert and James Murdoch want as long as it fills their bank accounts. No wonder that James Murdoch joins George Osborne to promote Osborne as the new Sheriff of Nottingham.

  • Comment number 55.

    #36 The VAT cut was such a good idea that business is asking for more, the scrapage deal is being extended and what are the Tories offering a tax cut on inheritance tax for the rich

    The scraggage deal is creating jobs for overseas manufacture and dedt in this country.

    VAT cut is causing spending of much overseas stuff piling on more debt
    for UK plc as a loss in revenue's. when he should have been cutting expenditure.

    and not creating any jobs in the UK as unemployement is still rising.

    how about polciy to stop single parents coming about, treat the cause rather than the systems

    This was all about buying a false dawn recovery to win an election and save One mans job, rather than tackling the REAL issues.

  • Comment number 56.

    I do hope Brown actually goes ahead with this. Not everyone watches PMQs every week so they probably have no idea about how poor Brown is when put on the spot. He spins, obfuscates, misleads, lies, regurgitates tractor production figures and takes cheap shots at the tories. In short, he doesn't "debate" in any true sense of the word at all.

  • Comment number 57.

    Not the first and undoubtedly not the last: is this what we pay you for Mr Robinson, to tittle tattle on about nothing.

    Let's hark go back to the old days when senior politicians were given some respect by journalists and if some uppity hack failed to appreciate his station in life, politicians felt free physically to attack said journalist. This is a system I would like to see.

    Now, I am not a violent person and I have lost much of my respect for our politicians but I have lost even more respect for our journalists. Ream after ream and byte after byte of meaningless tripe churned out day after day.

    The outcome is that the G20 convenes and all that these hacks can think about was whether the PM was snubbed. Tell me, how can this be the main story of the day given the issues facing the G20?

    I understand the PM was asked about his health by another BBC journalist over the weekend in spite of the fact that when No 10 agreed to the interview this topic was banned. That's not to say I agree with censorship. Rather, the health of any individual is the sole concern of that individual. It is written into the doctor and patient relationship. Thousands of people, I think, have refused or would like to refuse, to have their medical records kept in a central database in order to protect their privacy.

    So who is some hack who feels he has the right to ask a downright impertinent question that is none of his or our business?

    When the next election arrives I fear that the quality of debate is going to be set by these people and the PR people who are over populating the Tory Party. New Labour Spin? We ain't see NOTHIN' yet. We're all dooomed I'm afraid. Then the worse PM ever will get into No 10. Who will we blame then?


  • Comment number 58.

    Judging by his speech a the conference, Brown seems to have rediscovered the traditional values of the Labour Party. It is a pity that this has come only after 12 years of wasted opportunity, and maybe it is only happening now because he realises that it is the only way to fire up party members to work in the coming election campaign, but penitent sinners should always be welcomed.

    Gordon has formidable debating skills, and it must be a good idea to have him putting the center left case on TV. Apart from occasional appearances by stalwarts like Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone, this case has hardly been heard in recent years and has been overwhelmed by the right wing outpourings of the popular press.

  • Comment number 59.

    #40 TAG

    What annoys me about pensions is that everyone seems to be moaning about the final salary pension being economically non-viable.

    Just because some companies did not put any money into their pension funds while their shares were up and are now left with a huge hole to fill, why should ordinary working people (who fulfilled their side of the bargain) suffer?

    I believe Tesco still has a final salary scheme so IMO other companies only have pathetic excuses as to why their pensions are 'expensive'. In the dog eat dog world of capitalism these companies should be left to the dogs of receivership!

  • Comment number 60.

    Labour has 217 days left in power.

  • Comment number 61.

    I just listened to the interview with James Naughtie. GB must think that this kind of behaviour makes him look inscrutable, but it merely reinforces his reputation as a ditherer, bottler and somebody incapable of giving a straight answer to a very straightforward question. Would you buy a (re)used manifesto off this man?

  • Comment number 62.

    Oh dear, the most important matter in politics is whether the Prime Minister will take part in a debate on TV? How has it come to this?

  • Comment number 63.

    Funny thing is that I really don't like the idea of "head to head TV debates" in an election run-up.

    This is NOT the USA or France, or any place that elects a President.

    We - as UK voters - are supposed to select candidates and probably parties who we think could represent us fairly well. It is entirely possible (though very unlikely) that the leader of a party that achieves power to be turfed out of his/her role as MP by a local constituency.

    In theory, each week that Parliament sits, there is the chance for debate at PMQs. IF we ever had a Speaker who would simply say "Answer the question", the pancake make up, TV studio nonsense wouldn't even be relevant.

    Typically, a Cabinet is made up of elected representatives chosen at random by a PM. Recently, we have more and more unelected dead-beats "placed" in a so-called-reformed (?) House of Lords, to take major roles in public lfe with absolutely NO scrutiny of their suitability, competence, or dedication to national - rather than tribal - values.

    At least in the USA every appointee to a senior role is subjected to examination by the people's representatives before assuming office. Anybody asked OUR representatives to judge or consider whether a disgraced MP should be pulled out of the EU to become Lord Mandy or all-over-the-place? Nah. Because New Labour "reformed" political life.

    Towards what exactly? Cheap. Tawdry. Newsbite, bad law, no delivery.
    The old dying days of the Tories was based on individuals being caught out doing things that are now considered quite normal for politicians. (Like stuff the mods wouldn't allow, but have probably read about.)

    Self-delusion is a pre-requisite for every body alive. "I could do this or that if I make a bit of effort..." sort of stuff. Sometimes it results and works.
    It keeps people alive.
    Mostly people who spend their OWN money and invest their own efforts, rather than saying "There's got to be a bloke or gal out there who knows far more about me than I do, so I should let him/her spray my money around without actually bothering to check if it goes where I don't want it to go".

    Just sick of this "hero". But thanks for stuffing up my pension. Guess if Brown goes back to live in Scotland, he'll get better treatment than he would do in England.

    A promise is interesting. An intent is fun. DELIVERY should not mean that millions of poorer people have to scrabble around to find a tax-credit or elusive benefit to make up for the money they had in the first place.

  • Comment number 64.

    mr perry @ 48

    does childish name calling really benefit Labour?

    hello JR! - thing is I sometimes make serious points in a trivial way - kind of the opposite to you, if you see what I mean

  • Comment number 65.

    Oh dear. You would have thought that he would have learnt from his you-tube debacle. Who on earth are Gordon Brown's media advisers? Have they lost the common-sense gene? I almost feel sorry for Gordon as he flays desperately after his white whale.

    I do wish the politicians would refrain from telling us that they are going to win elections. It is up to us, the voters, not them. A bit of humility please, or they will end up on the same sinking flotsam as Neil Kinnock.

  • Comment number 66.

    Given the man does not know how to say sorry I can't see a great deal of honest debate leading to new insights in the political choices.

    Was Iraq the great idea Blair thought? Should they in retrospect not have muzzled the FSA and allowed them instead to fully investigate "perfectly respectable banks"? 10p? Was the fact that the economic crisis nearly took us all out in fact a reason for deep concern and not self congratulation because it didn't?

    Therefore he is almost certainly going to treat the nation to "professional politician" skills that will include stonewalling, stonewalling and stonewalling whilst he hopes Cameron makes a big mistake.

    He does not see that only some party activists will be impressed.

    Therefore not only does the attitude to cuts show he puts party interest over national interest but now he also does not understand the depth of discontent with politicians. They could have been more specific about what was going to be CUT as in practice it may not have any immediate impact on restraining the recovery - the excuse offered for pretending there will be no cuts.

    A pure AV system won't handle the distortions of first past the post so other parties cannot come forward as an alternative home for a meaningful protest vote in most seats.

    A cosmetic TV debate that is only happening because of his dire polls won't reinvigorate the political process.

    Perhaps ironically though it will start a new and useful tradition.

  • Comment number 67.

    For him to say he's 'decided in his own mind' can effortlessly be interpreted as deflecting the question too, with no guarantees either way. Perhaps he has just decided to remain undecided?

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    In project management this game is called 'schedule chicken'. Everybody keeps on saying "yes, they will do it / be ready" while fervently hoping someone else will be the first to dodge and admit they won't / can't.

    It gets really interesting when nobody flinches. Of course, they could all agree to say the don't want to do it - but what are the chances of that...?

  • Comment number 71.

    57. At 12:51pm on 30 Sep 2009, duncanwil wrote:

    ..... When the next election arrives I fear that the quality of debate is going to be set by these people and the PR people who are over populating the Tory Party. New Labour Spin? We ain't see NOTHIN' yet. We're all dooomed I'm afraid. Then the worse PM ever will get into No 10. Who will we blame then?


    Why would people blame Duncan?

  • Comment number 72.

    Gordon is an irrelevance.

    It would be better to see a debate between Cameron, Clegg, Nigel Farrage and Nick Griffin.

    Also Brown would only tell lies - we already get those at PMQ's. It is time to no platform Gordon.

  • Comment number 73.

    'Brown will take part in debates'.

    Wow ! the country is in crisis and this is NEWS ??? Does anyone really care ?

  • Comment number 74.


    Thats only part of the story.

    The other part was Gordon and Geoffrey Robinson's rape of the pension funds in 1997. You conveniently forget that.

  • Comment number 75.

    Is the post-it notr with 'take part in debate' in the same pile as the one marked 'hold a referendum on the EU'?

  • Comment number 76.

    He is just leaving options open.

    If something goes really well for labour or something goes really bad for the others, Brown will be jumping up and down, insisting on an immediate debate... If things roll on as they are, he won't go anywhere near a live debate...

  • Comment number 77.

    Hi Nick,

    I have not read the Sun for an awful long time. What I will say is that I followed a link on another blogger and found the Sun. What I will say is that the pictures referred to by Harriet Harman are in fact very tasteful. I cannot tell a lie, I actually do think that women of all ages and sizes are attractive to the eye. I prefer women with whom I can have a good discussion, same with men, but I will never say that the looks of anybody make me like or dislike them. It is about the whole person. I have never in my whole life actually bought a copy of the Sun, I am male and sixty. I have however looked at the pictures however, I would say that I have also looked at pictures of women in their lingerie in the various catalogues which my mother ordered from in past years. This is despite the advice of some of my teachers who said that I should not even look at the pictures on the posters outside of cinemas advertising x rated films in the sixties. Yes it was catholic school run by christian brothers. I suppose that explains an awful lot.

    I will finish by saying that I would love to have a conversation with Harriet but I would not wish to see her in her underwear. Was it not Ms Harman who said something along the lines that if she were to be PM then many men would leave the country! Be afraid guys, very afraid, we may well to start packing our bags.

  • Comment number 78.

    If the 'quantative easing' borrowing had put (say) £100 billion into UK based research into cancer it could have really been worth while... Instead Brown has p*ssed it up the wall just like he has the other billions...

  • Comment number 79.


    Unfortunately the level of debate I fear will be very negative especially from Labour. Example is the nastiness of the comments made by Harriet Harman this morning. Her comments were based around the normal Labour tactic of if they don't support us then we attack and the speech was hateful.

    The way the Labour spin machine gets to work is distasteful and they will happily engage in hateful e-mail even from the inner sanctums of No10. It was good in one respect they did get caught and that one person paid with their job. But the tendency has not gone away.

    I made an observation in a previous blog about how a person cannot choose that they are born in to a wealthy family or the colour they are born. If a person makes any comments about their colour then they are racist and that is abhorrent. It is also abhorrent when the nastiness is directed at a person because of their background or the school their parents chose for them as a child they had little or no choice. It is the current and future actions of that person that they should be judged on not their upbringing or race.

    Maybe someone from the Labour supporting side can explain what the difference is as a baby cannot choose the background or the colour they are born with? So why is it ok to mention that they come from a wealthy background? I cannot see the difference personally as they had no choice before they were born.

    Unfortunately the Labour Party are introducing hateful comment that they push as debate and a number of comments have been made this week at their conference.

    I hope that the Conservatives have a positive message next week and that the chasm that exists between the negative hateful comment from Labour and positive comment focussing on actual issues from the Conservatives.

  • Comment number 80.


    In your eulogy at 36 of Gordon Brown's speech and recent initiatives you mentioned the word scrapage. I couldnt have summed up the past twelve years of New Labour better. It was indeed a scrap age, and now we need a new infill site to dump all the memories of their time in office. Incidentally, if they do decide to dump him themselves, will they look for some recompense in a cash for clunkers scheme?

  • Comment number 81.

    41. dhwilkinson

    Nice one dh.

  • Comment number 82.

    Mods, how is the following "off topic" please?

    Brown will take part in debates

    Does Derren Brown know about you and your psychic powers?

    He said he'd made his mind, such as it is, up, but not what that decision was. You, with deep insightfulness, can tell us this.

    Does this mean, in line with current processing, that previous threads will be closed off?

    Do you think that changing the topic to something anodyne will staunch the flow of anti-Brown and anti-government postings ?

    Maybe you could post another thread, outlining your thoughts."

    The title of this thread is "Brown will take part in debates", yet what he is reported as saying is that he has made up his mind about it, which isn't exactly the same thing, is it? When I was taught English it wasn't, but time and educational standards might have moved on.

    Anyway, in what way is this original posting off topic?

  • Comment number 83.

    When you press the red button to get the trinny and susannah commentary. They could discuss which brand of self tan Cameron uses. I think its Ronseal.

  • Comment number 84.

    "atrisse wrote:
    Hmm, that's all I need: a mass debate of politicians on my screen.

    But tell me, why on television? They have these debates in Parliament every day?"

    Some of us are hoping that Brown will actually have to answer the questions in a proper debate, rather then dodging the issue.

  • Comment number 85.

    I hope he remembers it isn't PMQs and answers questions rather than give lectures... wonder how long the string will be between him and Mandelson.

    I certainly won't be marking a cross in Radio Times, Browny has had his chance... what they can do in 11 years they won't be able to do in the next 4 - they've blew it so bring on the next in line to try.

  • Comment number 86.

    "Zydeco wrote:
    45. At 12:01pm on 30 Sep 2009, atrisse wrote:
    .......Likewise it's high time the Council Tax was reformed on a fairer basis. In our street we have two people living side by side, a pensioner on about £100/wk (£5200 pa) and a doctor who pulls in about £130,000 pa. They pay the same Council Tax. Hardly fair on the less well-off. Will they debate that?
    There was a system like that once upon a time. It was called Poll Tax.
    The populace rioted to get rid of it."

    I thought the Poll Tax was based on number of people living at an address rather than their income.

    And why should council tax be based on income? I am sure we already had taxes that were based on income, I think they are called "Income tax" and "National Insurance"

    Council tax is a tax to pay for services provided by the local council - the pensioner and the Doctor both have access to the same services (or the pensioner might have access to even more services if some are OAP only) so why should one pay more than the other?

    I pay 75% of what the retired couple next door pay, however because they are retired they get discounts on many local council services (so on a per person basis I already pay more for less!)

  • Comment number 87.

    Bottler Brown lost the plot twice this morning under pressure on TV.
    If he goes ahead with debates, then we sould be able to see just what an arrogant, evasive bully he is. Out-take shows will have miles of footage for years to come.

  • Comment number 88.

    Best to put them on Question Time,before an audience,
    than grasping a lecturn,reciting prepared answers !!

    Dull television !! Remember sweaty Nixon !!

    Another idea. Parliament is not used Friday afternoons.
    Let Brown/Cameron/Clegg address the house for 15mins
    each and then each be subjected to 45mins questioning!!

    Trouble is they will not agree to Umpire Bercow in the chair !!
    Suggestions on the back of the last political paper !!

  • Comment number 89.

    #39 JohnHarris

    You say that the Conservatives have not yet pronounced on the scale and nature of the coming cuts and that we should watch their conference to see if futher light is shone.

    Surely, Dave will continue to churn out supposedly progressive ideas until the election. I don't think he'll show his cards.

    Look at Europe, him and Hague have formed that dreadful right wing 'we shall fight 'em on the beaches coalition' and hopes that his anti-gay, anti-semitic Polish friends will filibuster for long enough for us to have a vote even though we've agreed to Lisbon.

    If they don't, well, errrrrr, that's a bit vague. He should spell out his plans.

  • Comment number 90.

    He didn't say whether he'd decided positively or negatively though Nick. I doubt he is going to do it, especially if the economy is still in recession, which it more than likely will be.
    I listened to the whole interview and his speech yesterday. Where was the bit about we all must work together and get through this and for that reason we are going to stop wasting money here or here? It was all still spend spend spend.
    I asked a question on the Politics show last year about where the belt tightening was going to be and Jon Sopel kindly put it to Darling, tragically they have not been able to put their answer forward and refuse still to do so.

  • Comment number 91.

    Don't really need debates, all he has to do is answer the questions at PMQ's which is something he has failed to do since he was co-opted as prime (lower case) minister.Is there any reason to suppose he'll answer questions in a televised debate ? I doubt it, he has no answers either to the country's or to his own increasingly obvious problems.

  • Comment number 92.

    "I've decided in my own mind,"

    That quote says it all with emphasis on the words "in my own mind".

    I'm sure many things happen in his own mind. However, I thought this news had already been covered yesterday. Aren't you falling behind a bit here Nick.

    Also what kind of response is that anyway, very vague and open to interpretation while not directly addressing the issue or answering the question in any way. Sounds exactly like old politics in the supposed new era of New Labour. So it's back to Business as usual in the Spin Department but then again, Gordon would rather us focus on the issue of will he debate or not rather than on the real issues because I think the public have seen him go about the real issues for years, except for the fact that they're only the real issues in his own mind.

  • Comment number 93.

    Brown will take part in debates.

    Brown will reform the HofL.

    Brown will introduce a referendum on AV.

    Brown will make cuts in the public service.

    But not now..... will all happen after the next GE so these decisions will be taken away from him.

    PS BTW did anyone see that reference to GB as a haggis in the Sun?

    It was just offal.

  • Comment number 94.

    If Sky run a debate:

    1. They should broadcast it free to air, and make sure its also on one of the TV networks that use their news service (Five)
    2. ITV should also run one.
    3. The BBC should also run one.

    If we're going to take this ridiculous US notion on, then we should be fair and make sure all broadcasters host one each in a series of debates.

  • Comment number 95.

    Had to tune in the digital changes and flipped onto the Labour Party Conference. Wish I hadn't. What a downbeat, offbeat, strange rebellious lot of speakers - like going to gin lane and beer street a la Hogarth. A vile man with a horses tail on his head, a neuter gender studenty studded creature, an old bat with smoker's voice, a militant woman from Liverpool. All with huge chips on their shoulders. All trying to rubbish the Tories. How sad.

    The room is only half full and it is clear they are a party which is just about shunting into the sidings to rust for years.

    Oh, the agony. Oh, the shame of Britain with this lot trying to pull the strings and oil the wheels. The light at the end of their tunnel is another train coming straight at them.

    No, take them away. Please..............................Labour is kaput.

  • Comment number 96.

    It may be fortunate for the Labour Party that a huge tsunami has taken pride of place in the news

    My thoughts are with those people

    Brown just needs to name the date now

  • Comment number 97.

    I'm no great Gordon Brown supporter, as previous comments I've made here will testify, but I don't blame him for not wanting to be bullied or rail-roaded into agreeing to to a 'public debate' on Sky news because their agenda is to undermine him on Rupert Murdoch's orders. I'm surprised you're leaping on the bandwagon, Nick.

    The media have really got it in for him. When Brown accused Adam Bolton of politicking himself over 'the great debate' this morning, Bolton put on a pseudo-innocent expression as if he would never think of something so underhanded. Who do you think you're kidding, Mr Bolton?

    Sian Williams so-called interview with Brown on BBC also this morning consisted of her arguing and interrupting everything Brown said. I couldn't believe what I was watching and had to switch over as she was irritating me so much. I thought an interview was meant to consist of asking questions, allowing someone to answer and letting the viewers make up their own mind.

    I think the vitriol being shown by the media, not forgetting the pre-prepared attack by the Sun before Brown even spoke could very well backfire and garner support for the Labour party. For the first time in years I'm thinking of voting Labour because I don't want a media-elected government by those who have their own reasons for wanting the Tories back in power.

  • Comment number 98.

    89. extremesense

    "...even though we've agreed to Lisbon."

    We have??

    83. dhwilkinson

    You're on a roll today, dh.

  • Comment number 99.


    I totally agree with you that for many of the spokespeople for the Labour party and 'independent' guests I hear on the BBC (5live in particular) it appears to be perfectly acceptable to label whole groups of people on the basis of their parents' wealth or the paper they read.

    I disagree with a lot I read in the Guardian, Independent, Mirror etc but wouldn't dream of making the lazy, bigoted comments I hear some of those on the 'left' make about all Sun and Daily Mail readers.

  • Comment number 100.

    Nick you might want to ask him at this debate why the £0.5 billion from efficiency savings in the NHS from back room waste to fund 'carparking' and yet to be decided, at what level personal care, (which I suspect is going to be funded from the government stopping care allowances for all of the disabled as proposed in its recent work and benefits bills), was not got back before now to reduce our national debt over the last 12 years. I suspect an answer to this debate and other questions will contain the well known phrases, 'smoke' and 'mirrors' with Lord Mandy playing David Copperfield or Darren Brown in the background.


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