This isn't the first time the following snatch of dialogue has been quoted in the press this week, but it's worth quoting again. Robin Day (on Panorama. last year): 'And, when there is a general election, will you agree to debate on TV with the Leader of the Conservative party, who- ever that may be at the time?' H. Wilson: 'Good heavens, yes. I'd be willing to debate with him tomorrow.' Yet now, challenged to just such a debate by Ted Heath, Wilson has refused. Now, whether there is or isn't a television confronta- tion between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition is one of the supremely impor- tant issues at this election, both to the electorate at large and in its effect on the balance of advan- tage between the two parties. This is what makes the Prime Minister's bad faith so odd: it's so utterly pointless it can only be compulsive.
Which reminds me of that brilliant perform- ance by Albert Finney as Billy Liar a few years ago. The last curtain fell with Finney. alone, 'con- ducting' vigorously ... to the strains of a gramo- phone record. Not an altogether inapposite symbol of H. Wilson's dynamic. purposive leader- ship, come to think of it.