A ROW over who should participate in televised political debates ahead of the general election could result in legal action against major broadcasters, it emerged yesterday.
The BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 unveiled plans for a round of three TV debates to be broadcast ahead of the election, but only included the leaders of the three main political parties and Ukip’s Nigel Farage. Now the Green party, which like Ukip has one MP and the SNP which has six, are preparing to take legal action to be included too.
The inclusion of Nigel Farage in at least one of the three proposed debates also caused a stir in Westminster yesterday as Douglas Carswell, the first elected Ukip MP took his place on the green benches.
Responding to the proposals, which will likely be subject to weeks of talks while political parties bargain to be heard or have others excluded, Prime Minister David Cameron said he is broadly in favour of the debates, but added: “I’m in favour of TV debates, but you’ve got to make sure you come up with a proposal that everyone can agree to, and I can’t see how you can have one party in that has an MP in Parliament, and not another party.”
Labour said the plans are a good starting point for negotiations, while Nick Clegg’s party expressed concern that they would be excluded from the head-to-head style session between David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
“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,” a spokesman said.
Farage is also understood to be making his case to be included in a second debate if the political landscape shifts.
Three debates are planned:
▪ A head-to-head debate produced jointly by Sky News and Channel 4 and hosted by Jeremy Paxman
▪ A three-way debate between Cameron, Miliband and Clegg on the BBC hosted by David Dimbleby
▪ A debate on ITV including the three main party leaders and Farage, hosted by Julie Etchingham.