Yesterday morning the interviewer on the Today programme got a good doing over by Lord Grade, not that he was gratuitously offensive or even at all agressive. The issue was whether the PM should be obliged to appear in the television debates, and Lord Grade repeated the theme of his newspaper article, that it is up to the TV channels to propose the format of the debate and up to the politicians to decide whether they want to appear.
Lord Grade's point, as expounded in the papers, was that to threaten to empty chair the PM was a political act by the broadcasters, and it is contrary to the BBC's charter to do so. Of course many people would like to see a televised debate, but it is up to the broadcasters to propose a format and for the politicians to decide whether they want to appear. Of course the PM has the right to choose not to dignify the :eader of the Opposition with a 1-1 debate. the broadcasters may not like it, but it is not for the BBC to act politically. Lord Grade won that "debate" 8-0 despite the splutterings of the interviewer.
But then the interviewer tried to switch the discussion to Clarkson, which Lord Grade swept aside, thereby missing an open goal. If the BBC was willing to empty chair the PM, why wouldn't they empty chair Clarkson instead?
He could also have mentioned that Sue Inglish, the head of political programmes at the Corporation who is leading talks over the debates for the broadcasters, is married to John Underwood, who succeeded Peter Mandelson as the director of communications for the Labour Party.