Daily catch-up: who was it who said the television debates weren’t going to happen?

All you need to know about what’s going on

Click to follow

1. It is time to see this from the BBC again, one of the best photos of the 2010 election campaign.

I don’t want to say I told you so but I want to say I told you so. The television debates are not going to happen this time round.

This has little to do with Ofcom’s draft ruling yesterday that the Greens are not a major party. That has no necessary effect on their taking part in the debates, which are a matter for agreement between broacasters and parties – Ofcom’s ruling is merely something that they can take into account. It is up to the broadcasters to agree a format and for the parties to accept or reject.

So far the broadcasters have fallen into David Cameron’s trap. The Prime Minister recognises that the debates are not in his interest, which is why they won’t go ahead. The broadcasters said they wanted to do exactly the same as last time – three debates with the three leaders – on the sound argument that it would be hard for Cameron to refuse to do what he had agreed last time.

Then the broadcasters changed their offer and suggested a four, three, two format: four leaders, including Nigel Farage, followed by three, and finally the two candidate prime ministers, Cameron versus Ed Miliband.

That gave Cameron scope for cavilling, so that he can make sure the debates don’t happen without being too obviously the cause of their demise.

2. Every time I start to wonder if it might be better to have Miliband as prime minister rather than Cameron, he persuades me otherwise. Last week, he seemed prepared to bargain away our nuclear defence in a deal with a fringe party in Scotland. Yesterday, he criticised academy schools.

3. At least Labour is serious about winning in one part of the country. Jim Murphy, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, has appointed the excellent John McTernan as his chief of staff.

4. The loss of Norman Geras has been keenly felt by his friends and supporters today. After the Paris shootings, his long 2005 post on “root-cause-ism” – the tendency of parts of the left to excuse terrorism – is as relevant as ever.

In similar vein, we cannot be more than 30 minutes away from the first post on Comment Is Free accusing Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, of “using” the horror of Charlie Hebdo to push for more authoritarian powers.

For people capable of understanding that the horror of Charlie Hebdo ought to remind us of the need to do everything we can to defend ourselves, here is the full text of the MI5 director general’s speech yesterday (via Joshua Rozenberg).

5. I filled in the “new Magna Carta” survey being carried out by Graham Allen's constitutional reform select committee. This (below) was my answer to the first question. I gave the “total constitutional conservative” answers to all the others too.



My friend Tom Doran agreed with me: “It has never been clearly articulated to me what problems a written constitution would solve.” To which my other friend Twlldun replied: “Not having a written constitution.”

6. And finally, thanks to Gavin Purcell for this suggestion for Apple and Samsung:

“Idea: Wearable for your finger that tells the world your marital status.”