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If You Want Genuine Political Debate, Turn Off Nick vs Nigel

03/04/2014 11:26 BST | Updated 02/06/2014 10:59 BST

I switched on the radio on last Wednesday evening to hear men shouting over the top of each other. A new "Mens' Hour"? A replay of Tuesday's football? No, it was the monotone sound of our supposed democracy in action.

This time it was a white 47-year-old public school boy descended from a baron debating a white 49-year old public school boy-turned stockbroker. You're not even sure which one is which are you? It is a pretty sad state of affairs when holding UKIP's poisonous Farage to account is left to the man who raised tuition fees to £9000 after promising to abolish them and enabled the Conservatives to push through a crippling austerity programme they didn't have the electoral mandate to proceed with alone.

Following the debate, we had a discussion from....more white middle aged men. Danny Alexander, Patrick O'Flynn, Nick Ferrari again, and Andrew Mitchell were wheeled on to get the reaction. Then, struggling to think of any politician with two X chromosomes or who didn't look like a Westminster cut out, they managed to find some audience members to interview. Phew.

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Nick Clegg Vs Nigel Farage: Spot the difference

You see, when LBC and Sky advertised a "debate", what they really meant was an hour of two practically identical men agreeing about basically everything while pretending to do the exact opposite. For both men, the Europe question is in fact about one thing: money. And not money for those in our society who most need it - despite Clegg's half-hearted references to ordinary people's pay packets. Money for the people like them who already have hoards of it.

Nigel Farage's party wants us to leave the institution that has given us vital legislation on workers' rights, a bankers' bonus cap and consumer protection. His vision is one where those at the top of Britain's companies can better exploit workers and consumers and drive profit margins up even higher. Not that Clegg defended the EU on those grounds. No, Clegg has his eye on another ball at the moment: TTIP. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a polluters' charter that could destroy painfully established standards in Europe, particularly on food safety, allowing multinational companies to dictate to governments on matters relating to their own national legislation. Clegg's opposing vision in this debate is therefore one where those at the top of Britain's companies can better exploit workers and consumers and drive profit margins up even higher. Huh?

Yes, Farage ignored TTIP, and wilfully missed the opportunity to highlight some of the real problems with a European Union that continually disadvantages small businesses and communities for the benefit of large multinational corporations, and undemocratically imposes austerity on whole states.

But neither did Clegg consider in any detail the genuine need for a strong EU. UKIP's man was the only one to consider the environment, and then only to dismiss any money spent on this as a waste. His Lib Dem opposite (or not, as the case may be), did vaguely touch on the place of the EU in jurisdiction - but not of course on its place in ensuring human rights. He sought only to appease the UKIP tribe with a jibe about prosecuting paedophiles .

By the time you read this, Farage and Clegg will have had their second chance to act out their faux opposition - this time at the expense of the taxpayer on the BBC. Next year's General Election Leaders' Debates will sadly subject us to more of the same. Assuming that a party without a single MP won't be allowed in, we will be faced with three 40-something white men, all of whom agree on capping benefits for the poorest; refusing workers a mandatory living wage; being "tough" on migrants; criminalising those who suffer from drug addiction; and using benefits sanctions to force people into unsuitable and poorly paid jobs.

We're told voter apathy is at an all-time high - and no wonder when the pinnacle of pre-election TV is a bunch of men that all look and sound the same, trying to eek out the tiny differences between them into hour long "debates". But don't let the likes of our ultra-rich media giants fool you into thinking this is the sum total of our democracy. It is not a coincidence that the Green's Natalie Bennett wasn't even invited to the debate after-party - if she had been, viewers would have been treated to a genuine clash of political opinion, and - God forbid - seen a female political party leader in action.

The Green Party's satirical campaign video seeks to remind us that while Clegg, Farage and co are yelling at each other in a second televised mating call to the multinationals, Green politicians and campaign groups - from UK Uncut to Greenpeace; men and women, young and old, black and white - will be singing the tune of a radical alternative. Sadly you may have to switch off the radio to hear it.