There's a good article over on The Staggers suggesting that both Nick and Nigel and Farage will win from the European TV debate, almost no matter how it goes on the night. To quote the piece..
"Clegg believes the debate gives him the opportunity to take on the UKIP leader, undermine his arguments and expose him as a man short on ideas and substance. Farage, meanwhile, hopes to continue the momentum his party is building, increasing awareness of his party and trying to cement them in the mind of voters as a credible alternative to the status quo. If he does well in the Clegg debate, and in the European elections a few weeks later, it will put him in a powerful position to claim a place in the 2015 leadership debates"
What puzzles me however, is why cameron and Miliband are happy for this to happen?
A year out from the election, Nick and Farage will be positioned on national TV, setting the agenda for the next 12 months. Sure the 'topic' is Europe - but does anyone seriously doubt that both will fail to introduce other issues into the debate, for that very reason.
Meanwhile, Cameron has handed 'leadership' of the Eurosceptic sector onto Farage - and let's not forget, Cameron does think of himself as a Eurosceptic. Similarly, the Pro European Miliband is giving the stage to Nick, allowing him to own the pro Euro banner - and with 25% or so of the country firmly pro Europe, that's a big chunk of folk to hand over to one of your political rivals. No wonder the New Statesman says Miliband is getting Nick to prop up his own EU policy.
I know there is an argument that says by allowing the 2 to debate, this leaves Miliiband and Cameron free to hold a 'who will be the next PM' debate next year - but i just can't see the Electoral Commission going for that.
I suspect, come April, this will be a call both Cameron and Miliband regret.
William Barter makes some excellent points here