It’s hardly radical to suggest the Labour Leadership contest hasn’t set fire yet. A flutter of excitement on nomination day, but the long summer of hustings and a few beer and sandwich sessions doesn’t exactly make for cut-throat stuff. But could it be about to be blown open by a TV debate?
Another day and another hustings, only this time it won’t be a sympathetic audience of wonks and left-wing media. Tonight the five candidates will be grilled not only by Paxman, but an audience of former Labour, and floating voters. People who won’t want to talk about internal party politics or electoral reform, but their wallets, immigration and the harsh realities of the current economic crisis. The whole thing will be going out live on Newsnight.
The chances of one of them coming unstuck, one of them “doing a Clegg”, or a bun-fight, is greatly increased tonight by the fact people, real voters, will actually be watching. For most of the television audience it will be the first time they have seen the candidates lined up and ready to be judged. If this doesn’t liven up the race, what will?