The prime of Master Dominic Cummings.
It really does have it all. Allusion to Goldman Sachs funding Remain, that if made by someone on the left in the current climate would probably prompt accusations of antisemitism and conspiracy theorising? Check. Implication that absolutely everyone and everything is against Leave, and yet still the polls remain at 50-50? Check. Naming of specific journalist with claim they are biased against Leave, with spurious allegation that Robert Peston campaigned to join the Euro, the same straw man Cummings and Leave throw at everyone? Check. Attempt at intimidation, with threat that ITV will face the consequences once Leave wins? Check.
Quite why the initial decisions about the debates caused Cummings to lose his shit quite so fantastically is a mystery. What on earth made Leave think that Downing Street would suddenly decide to play hardball any less than they did last year, when they successfully bullied the broadcasters into acceding to their demands on the basis there wouldn't be any debates if they didn't? Did they really believe that cowardly custard Dave would be willing to take on Boris or Gove when both intend for this to be their springboard to the Tory party leadership? Far better to go up against Nigel Farage, with his record of being easily riled if the audience dares not to applaud his nonsense, than a fellow Conservative with slightly more self-control.
Not that Boris does have more self-control; he'd likely descend into muttering within 10 minutes. You can though see Vote Leave's point: Farage is part of the Grassroots Out group, rather than Vote Leave, and Vote Leave is the official out campaign as designated by the Electoral Commission. If there's going to be anyone sort of facing Dave, as the ITV "debate" would take the same format as Channel 4's non-debate between Cameron and Miliband did last year, then it ought to be someone from Vote Leave. It shouldn't be up to the government to dictate whom it will or won't face, especially when part of the reasoning is that the Tories don't to further their impression they're at war with each other. Sorry Dave, ought to have come the reply, it's a little late for that now.
The fact is the debates have become a prestige event for the different networks, caring far more about holding them come what may rather than whether or not they're in the slightest bit illuminating. Last year's non-debates were absurdities that should never be repeated, and yet it would seem as though much the same is going to happen only a year later. The referendum has already been one of the most over-covered and somehow still least informative media debacles in recent memory, principally for the reason that the two campaigns agree on almost nothing. Each side accuses the other of scaremongering, and we have nothing remotely approaching an independent adjudicator to separate the complete bullshit from claims slightly more grounded in reality. The debates as proposed would do absolutely nothing to change that. Which, once again, would seem to be the point.