"Talking to people in and around Downing Street I reckon the odds are shortening (if you can get odds) on Brown agreeing to a TV election debate. It's a no-brainer for a Prime Minister well behind in the polls. There's a touch of the stunt about the Sky News empty chair threat but the channel deserves credit for helping focus minds.
Brown's view, I'm told, is now isn't the moment to decide or announce what he'll do in the campaign and, from where he sits, he's probably right. To say Yes would risk triggering another dose of election fever while to say No would look chicken. I've heard one adviser muse Brown should accept the challenge in this month's Labour conference speech, another suggest he should wait until early next year." You can understand Downing St's thinking in holding off for now. But the problem is that this has just reduced to another Brown the Ditherer story, and he's long since lost any capital he may have gained from agreeing to a debate in his party conference speech.