In another twist in the ongoing saga of the 2015 election televised debates, David Cameron has yet again turned down Sky's and the other broadcasters proposals and declared he will only attend one of the three planned TV debates and not all three, like was requested of him.
The coalition of broadcasters, made up of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky had originally announced a series of debates featuring the three leaders of the major parties and Nigel Farage. This was instantly shot down by Cameron, who demanded that if Farage was to be included in the debates, as should the leader of the Green Party and potentially even other parties too. This was widely criticized by commentators, who saw it as a desperate attempt to limit the amount of time UKIP would get on the microphone in front of the public.
In response, the broadcasters pitched three new debates:
- One head to head debate between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, to be produced by Channel Four and Sky and broadcast live on both channels.
- A seven-way debate including leaders of the Conservative Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru, to be produced by the BBC
- Another seven-way debate with the same leaders to be produced by ITV.
All the leaders of the parties agreed to this plan and stated that even if Cameron didn't wish to take part, they would go on without him. Today, we have heard from Downing Street that Mr Cameron would only take part in one debate, and that it would be one of the seven-way debates. He also demanded that the debate happen this month and suggested that the Democratic Unionist Party also get a voice in the debate.
The response from the other leaders has been emphatic, with Mr Cameron being described as 'acting like a chicken' and attempting to 'bully' the broadcasters into bending to his will and not act in the interests of the electorate. The public are also outraged, with some using the phone numbers for Sky to demand that Sky keep to their plans, with Ed Miliband appearing on screen on his own, to highlight the petty nature of Mr Cameron's actions.
Downing Street has criticised the 'chaos' of the way these debates have been arranged, conveniently forgetting that at each step of the organisational process, they have been there to cause trouble and disrupt the proceedings, something which has been pointed out on the Sky com telephone number.
In a joint statement between the BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Sky, the broadcasters said: "The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky have received an email from the prime minister's office with a proposal. The broadcasters are committed to providing our audiences with election debates. Twenty two million people watched the debates in 2010 and we believe the debates helped people to engage with the election. The broadcasters have set out their proposals and continue to talk to all the relevant parties on an equitable basis. We will respond to the Conservatives' proposal in due course."
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