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Donald MacLeod: Our Next PM? This terrible bunch were like the world’s worst Take That tribute act

© Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC via Getty ImagesThe leadership candidates take part in a TV debate
The leadership candidates take part in a TV debate

Before being knocked out in the third round of the Conservative leadership race, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, the only candidate left at that time who didn’t go to Oxford University, warned it wouldn’t be “healthy” for the Tory party if the contest for the next prime minister looked “like a debate at the Oxford Union”.

Well Sajid, notwithstanding that you, like the rest of your Brexit Blue Motley Crew, have clearly put the health and interests of your flagging and desperate party over that of the UK and its divided people, with that flippant remark you have grossly insulted the debating skills of students currently attending one of the world’s most revered learning institutions.

No live political TV debate – certainly not one I have ever had the misfortune to watch – has been as embarrassing, unedifying, imbalanced and out-of-control as Tuesday night’s shambolic offering on the BBC.

Lamentably titled “Our Next Prime Minister”, it was hosted by the well-respected journalist Emily Maitlis. And what should have been a balanced, articulate and well-managed hour of serious debate with five privileged hopefuls – Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid and Rory Stewart – became, instead, an arduous 60 minutes of tortuous, chaotic, yet weirdly compelling car crash TV.

Student union debate? No way. This could have been an opening scene in any future Carry On up the Brexit movie.

Poor Emily seemed out of her depth in her role as matron. Right enough, Jeremy Kyle would have struggled to keep order with this bunch of stool-perched squabblers.

On the odd occasion they did settle down, they looked like a badly dressed tribute boy band that had come out of retirement…The Backstop Boys, No Direction, Fake That or Pondlife. Take your pick.

None of them at any point looked, acted or behaved like a future PM.

Then again, their pumped-up bravado, finger pointing, shouting over each other and ever-hardening and unbelievable promises to leave Europe come October 31, weren’t for the incredulous members of the public sat squirming on the sofa at home.

They were for their own MPs, terrified of losing their seats to Farage, and 140,000 Tory party members who will ultimately decide who is hard and tough enough to become PM and stand up to the bad Johnny Foreigner over in Brussels.

And it’s certainly not going to be the least blue and agreeable Tory of them all, Rory Stewart, for speaking out against the party line. He has been sent to the naughty corner of the back benches.

As for the chosen questioners and the questions they asked, or I suspect told to ask, well they were as rank and rotten as Emily and her delinquent guests. I now seriously question the BBC’s political impartiality in the scrutiny of their chosen few.

Failing to spot that Abdullah Patel was an outspoken Imam, well-known for his misogynist rants and deep-rooted hatred of Israel, can maybe be put down as a forgivable oversight, same possibly for ex-Labour Party candidate Aman Thakar.

But not having anyone ask the candidates what they thought of the damning poll showing Tory party members overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit, even if it meant Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving the UK and their own party being destroyed?

This was, in my opinion, more than just an error, a producer’s oversight.

It looks like it was omitted for fear of further emboldening the cause of the nationalists in both countries.

But it’s nice to know we are wanted.

Well now the tribute boy band has been whittled down to a duo. More dross than Bros, certainly, but it won’t be long before one of them is granted their wish by their party’s intolerant membership and is undemocratically chosen to be the country’s new solo front man.

Whether he can keep his dysfunctional backing band together and get Europe and these fractured isles to sing along to his out-of-tune, out-of-step, discordant Brexit Bop before Halloween is doubtful.

Nil points, as they say in Eurovision!