Leadership debates to follow rules of Just a Minute

March 3, 2010

‘Each candidate will attempt to speak for sixty seconds without repetition, hesitation or deviation,’ said debate moderator Nicholas Parsons, ‘points will be awarded to any contestant who manages to speak sense for an entire minute – which is almost unheard of.’

Gordon Brown welcomed the new rules although expressed disappointment that challenges are to be made via a buzzer and not through the medium of shouting and throwing things around. ‘A minute is a long time for me to speak coherently,’ confessed David Cameron, ‘so, as usual, I plan to break it up into six, ten second sound bites.’ Nick Clegg said that he was ‘really looking forward to taking part’ before being immediately buzzed for irrelevance.

Secret footage of rehearsals shows that each candidate has his own individual weakness. David Cameron was challenged for endless repetition of the phrase ‘Broken Britain’; Nick Clegg constantly deviated by twisting every topic into a call for proportional representation; and Gordon Brown ‘ummed’ and ‘erred’ about everything before grabbing Nicholas Parsons by the lapels, throwing the stopwatch across the studio and storming off in a huff.

‘Whoever is speaking when the whistle goes gets an extra point in the opinion polls,’ said Nicholas excitedly, ‘although I see from the latest scores that we are now expecting a landslide majority for Paul Merton.’

Later debates will move onto other Radio 4 formats. In the ‘Quote Unquote’ round each party leader will attempt to wriggle out of embarrassing things that they have said in the past before accusing the others of saying something far worse.

The sessions will culminate in a special edition of ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ in which candidates will debate supply side economic theory using a swanee whistle and a kazoo. Finally, they will all swap manifestos and sing one sound bite to the tune of another.

In the event of a hung parliament the Queen is expected to apply the rules of Mornington Crescent.

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