Let’s start where we did with the Channel 4 Conservative leadership election debate on Sunday. Most voters didn’t watch the BBC version yesterday evening. Those that did will have long forgotten it by the time the next election comes.
According to our surveys, Party members, many of whom will have seen the debate, are mostly for Boris Johnson, who boycotted Sunday’s event. Some of them may bear it in mind – though we suspect that most will not – when they cast their votes.
Similarly, Johnson is now poised to win among MPs, and the debate took place the evening before today’s third ballot. They are the audience most likely to be affected by what saw.
In short, all eyes were on Johnson. And he would have had to make some stellar mistake, even by his standard, if either activists or especially MPs to reconsider.
He wasn’t particularly convincing. But then again, neither were any of the other candidates – including, on his own admission, Rory Stewart. The format, with a weak referee, no studio audience, and the contenders frequently speaking at the time made for confusion, bewilderment, and the urge to change channel.
Many will have yielded to it. Not that Johnson will have cared. He came, he spoke, he survived. He didn’t shriek “I admit it! I’m a fraud”; or unzip his trousers and expose himself or, far worse than either, lean back on his stool and say: “You know what. I’ve been thinking. That Corbyn blighter would make a first-rate PM.”
And now the credibility of the entire event has been undermined by a vetting failure to spot an Imam with at least one extremist view. Job done – for Johnson, anyway.