At the last general election for the UK parliament Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron refused to debate with Alex Salmond.
Only the three main parties would debate, said they. Although I thought it was unfair, after all, the SNP had seven seats in Scotland and the Conservatives only had one, I could see some sort of reasoning.
Alex Salmond had no chance whatsoever of being first minister of Britain, although, if that was the criterion, what, I wondered, was Nick Clegg doing there? He had no chance either.
Now there is a chance for the First Minister of Scotland and the Prime Minister of the UK to debate, and once again the opportunity has been turned down.
Mr Cameron will not debate with Mr Salmond. He says that Mr Salmond should debate with Mr Darling.
I'm not sure on basis these things are decided. I realise that people like Cameron, and for all I know, Salmond, are 'position concious'. I know that Mr Cameron is distantly related to the Queen through his mother, and closely related with immense wealth through his late father, and that Alex Salmond is neither. So they are not really in the same "class"... and that sort of thing means a lot to Tories.
It would also be true to say that Mr Cameron is the Prime Minister of the UK, and no doubt considers himself to be a very important man on the world stage, second only perhaps to Mr Obama. He likely sees Mr Salmond as a mere administrator of what Tony Blair described as a parish council.
This referendum is not about political parties or position, though, so who should debate with whom?
Alistair Darling is head of the Better Together or No campaign (although so, it would seem is Anas Sarwar). Alex Salmond is not head of the Yes campaign.
Yes is not about the SNP, and No is not about Labour.
There are, we all know, many Labour supporters who are for independence, and this is shown in the growing movement started by Allan Grogan, which works with the Yes Campaign.
We also know that there are Liberals who are pro independence (they have a group on Facebook) and there may even be Tories who are. The stance of the Green Party and Scottish Socialists is pro independence too, and there is a Trades Unions for independence Movement.
As has been said many times, people who vote SNP may not be for independence. Many voted for a good solid government after 4 years of good governance from the SNP, (I think many voters were simply terrified at the idea of Iain Gray as First Minister!). An IPSOS poll the other day showed that, after 7 years in government the SNP still have a positive rating of +12 points compared with the UK government's -41 after only 2.75 years!
So we can't really have the YES and NO sides represented by individual politicians. Darling is the exception because he doesn't represents a political party as such. He, despite being a Labour backbencher, represents the Tories and the Liberals in his position as head of the No campaign. Perhaps he would debate with Blair Jenkins
But the head of government in Scotland and head of government in the UK, would not be an unreasonable debating combination.
According to this article from The Scottish Sun, the public wants to see a debate between the two of them, even if it might be a little infra dignitatus for Cameron. It would certainly arouse interest as they are both extremely prominent people.
The trouble is that Cameron knows full well he would be beaten to a pulp, unless he got one of his friends from the BBC to chair the debate.
To start with Cameron's arguments are always based on the GREAT in Great Britain (although in this case it actually only means big!). He trumpets the embassies, the 4th largest military spend, the influence with America and in the EU, and the position on the UN Security Council the clout that Britain has everywhere....
Now, much of that stuff is dubious anyway. We can't afford the military and are having to cut; we have almost no clout with America, we are likely to leave the EU; and our position in the security council must be in doubt in the next ten years as the balance of power changes from West to East.
But even if some of it were true, it's not putting food on the table, clothes on the kids, or stopping old people freezing to death, never mind paying the mortgage and buying a new car or a holiday in the sun.
Secondly, Alex Salmond is a consummate performer. Even his worst enemies can't deny he is brilliant in debate. If you disagree with every word he says, he puts it over well; he isn't patronising and he makes sense. Despite getting on well with the Queen, he has no friends at the palace. He got where he is today by being good at what he does.
David Cameron, on the other hand, is poor in debate and has little grasp of detail. He has a tendency to be patronising, and when someone scores a point on him he has a tendency to lose his temper and become Mr Flashman. Cameron got where he is today by a combination of money and contacts (including some in the palace).
If the two debated Salmond would win hands down and the Yes campaign would move forward in the polls. Most of the people in Scotland who dislike Salmond, also dislike Cameron (even the Tories).
Methinks Cameron, to use his own rather patronising word, is "feirt", and if he refuses accept this debate, he will be remembered as a coward, who knew he was beaten before he opened his mouth, and/or a snob, who thought he was above debating with a mere first minister.