Broadcasters BBC and ITV offer seven-way General Election TV debates

Guy Bentley
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After weeks of wrangling in the wake of David Cameron's insistence that he won't take part in General Election TV debates unless the Greens are represented, broadcasters BBC and ITV have come back with a rather stunning proposal.

The two broadcasters have decided to offer the party leaders and the public the chance of a seven-way debate. The event would include the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens, UKIP, SNP and Plaid Cymru.

Channel 4 and Sky News, on the other hand, would hold a head-to-head debate between David Cameron and Ed Miliband. Both debates would be a first-time event in British General Election history. In 2010, three debates were held featuring David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg.

David Cameron has come under increasing fire for his refusal to take part in TV debates. At yesterday's PMQs Cameron said, "If we are going to have one minor party, we should have all the minor parties". Now that the major broadcasters have offered Cameron exactly what he asked, he may find it difficult to back out.

In a joint statement, the broadcasters said:

[We] remain committed to providing election debates in the run up to the General Election. The debates played an important role in informing millions of our viewers in 2010 and we will continue to work with all the parties to ensure that they happen again in 2015.

While the PM has been accused of running frightened, some have argued his refusal to debate his opponents on live TV will have little impact on his electoral prospects.

Alex Singleton, associate director of The Whitehouse Consultancy, wrote in these pages last week:

David Cameron’s position on the TV debates won’t have any noticeable effect on how people vote. The ostensible upset is mostly limited to the Westminster bubble, where politicos drool at the opportunity to see politicians on TV.

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