This evening, the BBC hosts a “challengers” debate, one involving five of the seven from last time, so minus the “governing leaders”, namely Cameron and Clegg. The idea, I suppose, is to give voice to those party leaders who haven’t been governing recently or ever, but may be doing so in the future. Or something like that.
This debate is happening mostly by accident; the broadcasters had a set of debates they wanted to hold and their plans were bulldozed by the Tories. So they’ve come up with tonight as a weird alternative. I guess it’s better than nothing.
So what’s going to happen then? You can simplify the dynamic for this one in a way that you couldn’t for the seven man slam: it’s essentially Miliband v Sturgeon with some other random folk cutting in every once in a while. Wood will talk about Wales again, stuff that is completely irrelevant to 95% of the country; Bennett will try and hold her end up, valiantly, but the truth is the Green breakthrough looks like its time has come and gone; Farage is there to say something offensive every once in a while and appeal to the few UKIPers who may have bothered to tune in. No, tonight is about whether the Labour Party can convince the voters of Scotland to reject the SNP and plump for them again, pretty please, or if Sturgeon can put the final nail in the coffin of Scottish Labour. It’s all to play for between them.
I genuinely don’t know who will come out on top. Sturgeon showed last time out she can play in the Premier League. But I’m going to predict Ed winning on the night, mostly because I doubted him pretty much every step of the way in the lead up to this election campaign, thinking he’d be several major screw ups in by now, when actually he’s managed to look pretty good thus far. Watch – the moment I plump for Miliband to be victor he’ll decide to fall to pieces. But like I say, I don’t think so.