Party leaders put David Cameron under pressure over TV debates

Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage have written identical open letters urging the Prime Minister to take part in the televised leadership debates - and warning they will without him

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The Labour, Liberal Democrat and Ukip leaders have urged Prime Minister David Cameron to join in televised TV debates ahead of the 2015 general election.

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Last week Cameron said he won’t take part in the debates unless eco-friendly party the Greens (who like Ukip currently have one MP) take part. This position was described as “unacceptable” in identical open letters from Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage.

Each of the leaders wrote: “I believe it would be a major setback to our democratic processes if these debates were not repeated in 2015 because of one politician’s unwillingness to participate.”

Miliband, Clegg and Farage went on to state that if Cameron refuses to take part, they will hold the debates without him.

“If you are unwilling to reconsider, the three party leaders who have committed to participate will ask the broadcasters to press ahead with the debates and provide an empty podium should you have a last-minute change of heart.

“These debates are not the property of the politicians and I do not believe the public will accept lightly the prospect of any politician seeking to block them.”

American-style leadership debates were introduced for the 2010 General Election (pictured). Then Prime Minister (and Labour leader) Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg debated three times on ITV, BBC1 and Sky 1.

The current proposal is for another three debates across the three channels in the run-up to the election: a face-off between Cameron and Miliband, a second including Clegg, and a final broadcast with Farage added to the roster.

According to the BBC, Downing Street has refused to revise its position and continues to demand the inclusion of the Green Party, who said they are “deeply disappointed” after Ofcom ruled that they shouldn’t be included in the debates due to their lack of “major status”.

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How well do you remember the 2010 televised election debates?