DAVID Cameron has drawn a firm line in the sand over the proposed TV election debates, vowing not to take part unless the Green party is invited too.
The Prime Minister’s tough stance on the issue came after regulator Ofcom published provisional guidance suggesting that the Green party has not secured enough support in previous elections to be named as a mainstream party. The decision could see them cut out of televised debates.
Controversially, Ofcom has ruled in favour of Nigel Farage’s Ukip however, claiming that previous successes at the European elections and in two byelections mean the party should share the stage with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives ahead of the election in May.
Asked by ITN: “Are you saying you are not going to go in as it stands, unless at least Greens are in?’” David Cameron replied: “Correct,” adding: “ I don’t think the current proposals work.
“You can’t have one minor party without having another minor party and I think that’s only fair.”
Other party leaders were swift to condemn the Tory leader’s decision, with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg tweeting: “Come on David Cameron, the broadcasters have invited us, the public expect it, just say yes and stop making excuses.” Labour’s Ed Miliband was similarly unimpressed, adding: “David Cameron should stand on his record and stop running scared of TV debates.”
Ofcom’s decision is not yet final and the Green party has until early February to make its case to be included in the debates, before an announcement is made in March.
Even after this point, broadcasters are free to decide which parties should be included in the debates, but the ruling will act as protection if executives choose to exclude the Greens.
Natalie Bennett, the leader of the party, said last night: “The Green party is deeply disappointed by this draft Ofcom ruling, not only for itself, but for the damage it risks doing to British democracy.”