Now for some reason which frankly eludes me, David Cameron and Nick Clegg consider it beneath their dignity to debate with a mere deputy deputy and so send their deputies into bat instead. They are not alone in this. Alex Salmond once refused to debate with a government minister on Newsnight because he was not of the same rank. He then became irritated with Jeremy Paxman for revealing his pettiness.
The danger of course is that their deputies are better at the job than they are. This is certainly the case with Vince Cable standing in for Clegg, and William Hague had his best moments during his trying period as leader when standing at that despatch box and so may well best Cameron who has been off form lately anyway.
But why send in the deputies? We all accept that the Prime Minister is a busy man and will from time to time have to miss this largely pointless setpiece. Churchill when Prime Minister, and in the days before jet travel, often used to miss months at a time. But why do the opposition leaders absent themselves? Is it not rather petty? Do they have anything better to do?
Anyway, since they can't be bothered to turn up neither can I, and I don't have a deputy.