General election TV debate: Ukip’s Nigel Farage invited to face main Westminster party leaders

 
Guy Bentley
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Nigel Farage is on a roll (Source: Getty)

Ukip has just received its latest batch of good news with leader Nigel Farage being invited to take part in next year's general election TV debates with the main Westminster party leaders.

The broadcasters explained their decision saying it was the result of "changes in the political landscape".

The BBC, Sky, ITV and Channel 4 have announced plans for three debates. One debate will see David Cameron and Ed Miliband go head-to-head. This debate will be co-chaired by Sky and Channel 4 and chaired by legendary interrogator Jeremy Paxman.

A second debate, hosted by Question Time chairman David Dimbleby, will take place between the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems. This will be broadcast on BBC One.

Ukip leader Farage will appear alongside the other three parties for a third debate, will be produced and broadcast on ITV. Julie Etchingham will act as chair.

The broadcasters have suggested a schedule of 2, 16 and 30 April.

Farage welcomed the news, saying:

The decision is better than it could have been. It does at least recognise the increasing popularity of Ukip. However, if the political landscape continues to change we would expect and ask for inclusion in the second debate.

In 2010, Nick Clegg enjoyed a meteoric opinion poll rise after a strong performance in the first debate. However the Lib Dems rise in the polls was not reflected on election day when they actually lost seats.

The Lib Dems are not happy with the proposals:

The Liberal Democrats, like the Labour Party, have publicly said that we would be prepared to sign up to the same 3-3-3 system we had in 2010 [ie, three debates, with the three Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem leaders]

We do not accept the proposal that the Liberal Democrats, as a party of government, should be prevented from defending our record in one of the TV debates.

President of pollster YouGov Peter Kellner said the proposal was actually "very, very smart", as it accomodated Ukip but did not give it the same level of prominence as the two main parties.

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