The Great EU Debate: Farage vs. Clegg

Photo courtesy of the Daily Express

Photo courtesy of the Daily Express

When I first heard that Nick Clegg had asked Nigel Farage for a debate on EU issues, I was (as they say) gob-smacked.  Turkeys voting for Christmas.  A Clegg death-wish.  A boy sent to do a man’s job.

I’ve debated with Clegg myself.  I’m sure his style would go down a treat in the Senior Common Room at his old college, or in the corridors of the Berlaymont building in Brussels where Clegg once served on the staff of Commissioner Leon Brittan.  But to go up voluntarily against a sharp, street-smart operator like Farage — is that foolhardy?  Or downright suicidal?

I’d have rushed out to place a bet on Nigel — except that I don’t think I’ll find any bookies willing to offer odds.

I must confess that I had a slight concern that a Farage/Clegg debate without Cameron and Miliband might look a bit like a second-team event, while the important folk got on with running the country, and indeed that’s the way that Downing Street has tried to spin it.  But the fact is that the Farage/Clegg fixture will be a huge media-fest.  It will arguably be the first high-profile debate in which voters genuinely get to hear the arguments, and as such it will be a huge boost to the sceptic cause.  The very absence of Cameron and Miliband will leave them looking curiously disengaged from the Euro-election campaign.

Clegg will no doubt list all the hoary chestnuts of the Europhile camp.  Three-and-a-half-million British jobs depend on our EU membership.  We need to be in the EU for trade.  We have more clout as part of a larger entity.  Outside the EU, Britain will be isolated and marginalised.  And Farage will shoot them down in flames, one-by-one.  He will paint a positive picture of the huge opportunities awaiting an independent Britain.  The return of freedom and democracy will be an enormous boost for our economy.

I don’t imagine for a moment that every voter, going into the voting booth on May 22nd, will remember the whole debate point-by-point.  But every time they hear those specious pro-Brussels arguments, they’ll remember that Nigel shot them down in a thoroughly convincing way.  They will be reassured.  And they will vote UKIP.

There are two essential reasons why Clegg is on to a loser.  Firstly, in terms of debating skills, he just ain’t that good.  It will be the earnest apprentice against the seasoned professional.  And secondly, Clegg is simply wrong on the issues.  The EU is making us poorer, and less democratic, and less free, and Farage will leave the viewers in no doubt on that point.

But let’s be positive.  By asking for a debate which will have a huge public profile, and which will ensure a genuine airing of the key arguments on Europe, Clegg has done a very great service to his country, and to the cause of freedom and democracy.  Sadly for him, he’s also done a great service to the United Kingdom Independence Party.  Thanks, Nick.

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47 Responses to The Great EU Debate: Farage vs. Clegg

  1. PJ says:

    Clegg might as well bow out in a ‘blaze of glory’ for he is finished and so is his pathetic EU prone party of idiots. The Il Liberal un-Democrats are titled as the complete opposites of what they actually are….. and people still vote for them!

  2. Cleggo, ‘I have a cunning plan my lord…’

  3. Maureen Gannon says:

    Can’t wait for it Roger ,, I just hope Farage has both barrels loaded and comes out fighting.. I listen every week and cannot believe that clegg is a leader he staggers his words and I have only evey heard him talk of the job losses and how there are things wrong but we are on the top table and need to be there to put things right, were more like the leg of the table holding them up lets face it our dailt 53 mill gets converted into Euros for them to squander .

  4. Martin Dixon says:

    I hope Nigel bones up on all the arguments beforehand. To me he often seems to miss an open goal. Richard North’s EU referendum blog is a good place to start. Richard does his research, and has many carefully researched arguments for leaving the EU that UKIP spokesmen often seem to miss.

    • Roger Helmer MEP says:

      I think Richard North does a great research job. But remember all you get in the media is sound-bites — there’s never time to develop an argument. Maybe in Clegg’s debate, there will be time.

  5. Anyoldiron says:

    If you really think that Nigel Farage needs to go to look at Richard North’s blog to find out what to say-he has already lost the argument, and for a guess, you Martin, have lost the plot already. All Nigel needs to do is not try drinking his favourate drink at the same time as he speaks.

  6. Eric Worrall says:

    Clegg is likely to attack over the comments Farage made on the Ukraine. Farage suggested the EU was wrong to interfere with the Ukraine, but now Clegg can potentially turn that against him, and say that thanks to EU “interference” the Ukraine is moving toward true democracy.

    Frankly I think the backlash against dictatorship would have happened anyway – plenty of revolutions occurred in South America before the EU. But it would be well for Farage to have a good answer for this point.

    • neilfutureboy says:

      Ukraine isn’t a “dictatorship” – its government was democratically elected.

      The “true democrats” aren’t. They are very well funded thugs. The US has admitted to putting $5 billion into funding these “democrats”. If you paid a bunch of unemployed football hooligans even $1 million to riot you would get a riot.

      Ukraine in the EU is not in the interests of the British people. If we didn’t want 30 million Romanians & Bulgarians with a right to come here why should we want 50 million Ukrainians.

      UKIP have a very good record of opposing useless, expensive, warmaking & the LDs have a record of supporting it. No contest.

    • Roger Helmer MEP says:

      I’m not sure why everyone is insisting that Ukraine must remain a single, unitary state. Maybe a division on linguistic lines would defuse tension, and suit more Ukrainians better.

      • Mike Stallard says:

        Isn’t it fascinating to compare Western Ukraine and Scotland! One is rioting, the other waiting patiently for a chance to become independent. I do not see Police on the streets in Edinburgh.

    • Mike Spilligan says:

      It’s none of our (UK’s) business – nor that of the EU and the interfering Baroness who is probably only trying to look as though she’s useful. The main underlying impulse of the western Ukrainian rebels is anti-Semitism which has been strong in that region for more than a century and probably longer. The eastern Ukrainians have not forgotten how many of the westerns welcomed the Nazi invasion /.liberation and willingly joined the German army.
      There are other similar threads running through this split in opinions between two largely evenly-balanced political standpoints – in which there is little or no overlap, much like the two sides in the Spanish civil war, and that didn’t work out too well on any account.

    • David says:

      Interference from a woman who no one ever voted for = Democracy?

    • Terry Lyden says:

      I just hope Clegglet and all the others will stop interfering in other countries “development” for we never know who are the god guys and who are the bad guys. Have we ever done good ? Do we want more terrorism from other countries ” Freedom Fighters” when we still have Mugabe and other leaders we supported who go on to wreck their countries and then we send them aid!! We have only just finished with cold wars with Russia lets try just talking from now on.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        Looks like we are trying to start a new, hopefully cold, war with Russia over Ukraine.

        The US has admitted to putting $5 bn into funding “democracy awareness demos” in Ukraine by football hooligans and out and out fascists. I assume the EU has also put in that much We are trying to recreate the Yugoslav wars on Russia’s border in a land heavily inhabited by Russians.

        Perhaps with the collapse of warming alarmism the ruling class need a new scare to keep the populace obedient.

      • Maureen Gannon says:

        I could not agree with you more, What really sickens me is these pumped up no brainers treat us with such contempt they think we just accept what they say, the BBC would do Gobbells proud, not once did they talk of the snipers from the barricades that at least 5 police were shot by snipers, as you said they have to scare us with something.

  7. Francis says:

    The comments made by Lord Heseltine that Nick Clegg should not engage in a dialogue with a protest group just about sums up the arrogance of this lot. Let’s not forget this is the deputy prime minister, the second highest politician in the country. So at last Nigel has an opportunity to show his statesmanlike skills to a far wider audience. I believe this is a last ditch attempt by the LibDems to regain the 3rd place in UK politics that they have clearly lost to Ukip. I also believe that they will fail miserably. Heseltine can see that coming and the consequences are obvious. The great British public is fed up with liars, cheats and self-servers who make up the so called ruling classes. The EU is a large part of this establishment that has to go but we also need a spring clean at home. A vote for Ukip is a vote for change. That should be our rally cry!

  8. Adrian Hey says:

    To be honest I don’t think Clegg really cares whether or not he “wins” the debate. There will always be a hardcore pro-eu vote and Clegg is merely trying to make sure that vote at least goes to the Libdems rather than anyone else. This is an exercise in trying to turn an impending electoral wipeout into just a poor result for the Libdems.

    • Roger Helmer MEP says:

      You’re right, Adrian. The best Clegg can hope for is to shore up his pro-EU vote. But in the process, he confirms UKIP as the only sensible choice for the (much larger) anti-EU vote. Whichever way you cut it, this is good news for UKIP, and for Britain.

  9. Mike Stallard says:

    As a watcher of TV, and as someone who is desperate for the independence of my once great little island, I would like to say that Mr Farage’s main weakness is that he talks too much when debating. I do hope that he will actually listen to Mr Clegg as he enunciates, with that oh so sin – cere little hesi – tation all the points which you outline above before shooting them down, one by one like ducks in a shooting booth.

  10. Richard111 says:

    I hope there will be a transcript of the debate. My hearing is very poor, even with my NHS hearing aid. I tend to lose a lot of the conversation.

  11. Colin Kay says:

    They need Mlliband and Cameron in the debate if only to even the odds up against Nigel!He`ll still win hands down.

  12. Mike Spilligan says:

    Some unkind person in the LibDems has convinced Clegg it will be good for his image – and he’ll get lots more “I agree with Nick” marks. The willingly gullible Clegg has “fallen for it”.
    My misgiving – no more than that – is that there will be a post-debate debate in which Cameron and Miliband will try to tear down points made by NF without his having equal and immediate means of reply. How the media might report that (and we know the biases at work there) must be, at best, a lottery.

    • Thomas Fox says:

      There will be much bias in a long running post debate sponsored by all Tom Dick and Harry EU fanatics

      • catalanbrian says:

        Why is it that you europhobes always worry and complain about bias in any argument against your position, when in fact your arguments are no less biased?

      • neilfutureboy says:

        Because they aren’t Brian.
        You are, as ever, simply engaging in fact free gratuitous rudeness instead of debate.

        Or can you provide any factual evidence post debate analysis on the state owned “balanced, the law requires it” BBC is likely to give as much airtime to sceptics as Europhiles (or ever has in the past)?

        Is that a silly question?

      • catalanbrian says:

        The BBC gives appropriate and fair coverage. Of course other parties get more airtime than UKIP for the simple reason that UKIP is smaller and represents fewer people with zero MPs in the UK Parliament. Perhaps UKIP would want otherwise but that, I am afraid, is how democracy works. Indeed, it is likely that UKIP and the eurosceptics get more than their fair share of press coverage.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        🙂 brian

  13. David says:

    Thanks Nick, I do hope you dont catch the flu the day before!

  14. David says:

    Tarzans comments about a protest group, shows how wrong one human can be, 100% wrong. Maybe we should give him a new name, what was tarzans chimp called?

  15. Christopher Browne says:

    Nigel recently had a live debate with Malcolm Bruce the Lib/Dim deputy leader on LBC about the flooding and overseas aid and that we should divert some of this money to the flood victims, and Nigel pointed out the fact that we even sent aid to Argentina.
    Bruce said that this was not true.
    It later transpired that Nigel was right, but of course it was too late by then.
    My point is that when debating with Clegg Nigel should be able to prove that what he says is true with the relevant directive name/number to hand and shoot Clegg down live on radio/tv.

    • Bob says:

      LBC has a very noticeable anti ukip bias.
      Don’t be surprised if they pull a few strokes to skew the debate BBC style.
      Does anyone really think that Clegg suddenly came up with this idea on-air by himself.
      The LibLabCons don’t do spontaneity.

  16. David says:

    I see that Tim Rice has “Come out” as a UKIP donor, yes Sir Tim, well done. Will anyone be calling him Fruitcake, Gadfly, racist. Seems like a very nice guy, quietly spoken, thoughtful.

  17. George Chamberlaine says:

    Are the others just trying to use Clegg as a stalking horse, draw some fire and gain a measure of the situation.
    This has the making of a new and exciting TV extravaganza. “Choose Your PM” First Clegg and Farage then Cameron and Milliband. Grand finale the two winners meet and the overall winner is your next PM. All done by public vote. Still 632 MPs but each of the contestants selects a number of their own MPs according to the percentage of the public vote they scored. Much cheaper than a Gen Elec, all paid for by advertising.

  18. DougS says:

    Cleggo – you’ve got to love him for this.

    My bet is though that he won’t be able to resist the ad homs – so look out for ‘xenophobe’, ‘isolationist’, ‘Europhobe’,and of course the bigee – ‘little Englander’. When he’s lost the argument, name-calling is all he’ll have left in his locker.

    I can’t wait!

    • David says:

      Did you see the libdem baroness still spouting the 3.5 mill jobs depend on our membership, on question time, and there was no one there to challenge her.
      Certainly dimbledor did not, could not.

  19. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Is Mr Farage aware of this: (probably?)
    “The Lisbon Treaty has cost UK business £12.2 billion ($20 billion) since it was ratified in late 2009”

    New research released today by campaign group Business for Britain shows how big an impact the EU is having on British firms. The group, who represent members of Britain’s business community who want to see the EU reformed, also state that the regulatory effects of the treaty will cost business a further £6.1 billion per year from now on.

    The final cost will likely be up to £96.5 billion.

    Its an awful lot of expenses !! Perhaps Clegg might enlighten us (cost/benefit)

    Nice vid of undersea volcano blow off (to be added into models to adjust for…ummm…cooling)

    If not cooling then hiatus would do – the warming one that is.

    • Thomas Fox says:

      If Volcanoes have been blowing out toxic gases and CO2 for millions of years where have all these gases gone back into the oceans or perhaps to outer space from whence they came.

      • Christopher Browne says:

        CO2 is a soluble, heavier than air gas, all that rain recently washed a great deal of CO2 into the rivers and hence to the sea. Part of the natural cycle.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      As I understand it the notion that may have implicated volcanos as being a significant actor in climate events was dismissed quite some time ago. Mainly that AGW was the prime culprit all the time. However, a natural climate driver is being sought I think (storm/rain/wind frequency of late), hence heads (with a PhD) pop up everywhere with more driver candidates. Like the deep seas suddenly are not understood and not instrumented adequately. Volcanoes were not far under the radar it appears.

      Volcanic forcing (from particles) are now being examined within climate activities mainly because the various climate models don’t track climate adequately, as we very well know!
      Inconvenient lapses of time where little or nothing changes but still points at catastrophe? Its standing still but pointing that way!

      The particles mentioned appear to relate to above sea emissions, but there are volcano’s in the deep that together with those more shallow are responsible for 80% of global volcanic activity. The eruption above is one of the first (perhaps the first) to have been captured on video and is emitting not just particles. So you simply wonder whats absorbed into the sea from above it and whats being pumped into it from below (rather big time I think).

      It is mainly a natural cycle and the experts cannot get their head round the mainly bit.

  20. Richard111 says:

    Good points about volcanoes. Remember, life on this planet developed when the atmosphere was almost pure CO2. Life itself brought about a breathable atmosphere for us surface animals. If CO2 levels drop further plant life will die, and animal life, which depends on plant life.
    Go figure why certain parties want to reduce CO2 levels.

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