A man turned up outside the Houses of Parliament this week wearing a chicken suit.
Oh, good. The general election campaign has got this ridiculous already.
Perhaps ironically, the stunt for an easy photo opportunity was over David Cameron’s refusal to get himself on TV and debate with some of his opposition.
It goes thus, there are three debates. The first will see the Prime Minister go head-to-head with Labour leader Ed Miliband, the second adds Liberal Democrat leader Mr Clegg into the mix, and the third bizarrely includes Ukip’s Nigel Farage.
That’s right, Farage. He’s not an MP, of which his party only have two. Yes, they did well in the European elections but so what? This is not about what is, sadly, often a protest plebiscite with a turnout of around 35% across the UK.
There is cause for a debate between the two contenders to be Prime Minister, Cameron and Miliband. That makes sense.
It’s even understandable that Clegg is being drafted in to make a trinity for one event, despite his party’s current collapse.
And there should be a chance for the other parties to get their views across. Therefore, David Cameron is at least partly right with his current refusal to engage.
Most people want TV debates but it seems ridiculous to have Ukip without including others.
Let’s make sure we know the politics within the politics on this. Tories don’t want Farage included in case he outflanks them to the right and steals their ground. Labour doesn’t want the Greens involved in case the same happens to them on the left.
Then there’s the SNP. Easy to dismiss on the UK scale because they are purely a Scottish party, but it has double the number of MPs as Ukip and the Greens combined and is forecast to pick up more come May.
The Times newspaper this week ran a list of estimated party membership figures, comparing the 2010 figure with today’s.
It made for interesting reading, with Labour down from 193,000 to 190,000, the Conservatives dropping from 177,000 to 150,000, Lib Dems falling from 65,000 to 44,526.
When you looked at the smaller parties, Ukip is up from 15,500 to 41,943, the Greens rose from 12,800 to 44,713 and the SNP rocketed from 16,200 to 92,000.
That does not automatically entitle everyone entry to the debate but if TV producers want to be taken seriously and crucially, you would think engage their potential viewers, they should step outside their own little bubble.
LORD WINSTON, known better as annoying moustached science TV presenter Robert Winston, was quite rightly slapped down this week for insulting haggis and calling Scots fat all in one go.
When Tory peer Lord McColl of Dulwich argued for the ban on importing our tasty national dish to the USA to be scrapped during a House of Lords debate, his Labour opposite number went a bit mad at the suggestion it was healthier than fast food burger joints.
Lord Winston called haggis “revolting”, adding that, if it can deal with obesity, then “maybe we should be promoting it a little bit in Glasgow”.
That led to Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart channelling Burns, calling the professor “a ‘sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie’ for this affront tae a haggis.”
A week tomorrow shall be a feast to enjoy!
IT WASN’T just ridiculous arguments from their opposition that prominent SNP members were spearing, though.
There was a good Nat on Nat scrap thanks to the ever sensible former Dundee candidate and veteran campaigner Calum Cashley, who dismantled outlandish assertions about local councils made in a tabloid newspaper by backbench list MSP Joan McAlpine.
Cashley accuses her of being “out of touch, arrogant and unthinking” with her diatribe against devolving more power to a local level.
At least someone within the party was unafraid to put their head above the parapet and call out the centralising, power-grabbing nonsense when her parliamentary and local authority colleagues shirked the responsibility.
IT SEEMS that anyone on Scottish Labour’s press mailing list also gets a wee campaigning update from various people within the party.
I’ve written here before about the giveaways they push in exchange for money but the official opposition has let itself down in a mailshot to Courier deputy editor Steve Bargeton.
The note itself was addressed to “Steven”. Now, not only am I told the full name is reserved only for my boss’s mother to call him, it’s also spelled with a ph, not a v. Must do better …