Challenger debate sketch: Farage left alone as Cameron and Clegg bail out

BBC Challengers' Election Debate 2015 at Central Hall Westminster, London
BBC Challengers' Election Debate 2015 at Central Hall Westminster, London
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Amid the posturing in the second of only two debates featuring the leaders of the country’s largest political parties, in this the closest of elections in decades, one could not help but be utterly drawn to the conspicuous absence of the Prime Minister and his deputy.

For 90 minutes, five opposition leaders set out their alternative visions for how the country should be governed, with the current leaders unwilling to state their case for staying the course.

It was like watching a boxing match without the champion deigning to enter the ring.

It was like watching a boxing match without the champion deigning to enter the ring.

In an era of increasingly open debate it was shameful that neither David Cameron or Nick Clegg were prepared to be involved.

The PM took his hits on this front throughout the evening, something as inevitable as Nicola Sturgeon having another great night.

Those barbs were deserved. However the Deputy Prime Minister’s non-involvement was equally shameful yet unmentioned. Is Mr Clegg already such an irrelevance?

The fanciful notion put around by Mr Cameron and his team is that the Prime Minister stood to gain by not involving himself, that somehow by rising above the often messy multiple podium format he was elevated to a higher plane.

The reality is that he appeared out of touch and aloof.

It was left to Nigel Farage to swim alone against the tide of anti-austerity bluster, from the yet-to-convince Ed Miliband to the risible Natalie Bennett for the Green Party.

Mr Farage, derided throughout the debate, laid out the right wing orthodoxy that the Tory Party must and should own completely alone.

Predictably he was booed and attacked.

Not once did he flinch.

He, like all of the party leaders, on the stage have their detractors but he at least had the conviction to make his case to the public. Leaders always show up and want to be involved and will never fear to do so.