David Cameron, so it is said, never wanted a one to one face to face debate with Ed Miliband. Too much at stake. The possibility that the hapless figure characterised by some sections of press and party may turn out to be rather more persuasive and likeable. So nothing to be gained by giving him the chance to improve.
If that indeed were the motivation of the Prime Minister and his advisors, it would do them no credit. It would be a cynical calculation which would demean democracy. But if that were so, let the damage fall where public opinion believes it should lie. What cannot be done is an assertion of broadcaster power to seek to force his hand.
The Prime Minister, whatever his motives, has the absolute right to refuse to take part in any debate or interview he wishes. His high office is not to be undermined by crude pressure.
The broadcasters should consider the limits of their powers. The sooner they realize this, the better for democracy. One agreed joint debate is better than none at all.
I cannot see how the broadcasters can win or the PM change his mind. The sooner a graceful withdrawal is made by the broadcasters the better.
Nigel Pascoe QC