Ed Miliband accuses David Cameron of dodging TV debates
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 28 April 2014
Ed Miliband has accused David Cameron of sabotaging televised debates between the three main party leaders at next year’s general election because he knows the Conservatives will be able to outspend Labour on campaigning.
Mr Miliband claimed the Conservatives had “stalled at every opportunity” in discussions on whether to repeat the TV debates held for the first time in Britain at the 2010 election.
Writing in The Radio Times, the Labour leader said: “I can only assume that Mr Cameron wants his party’s deep pockets to be used for maximum advantage and that perceived political self-interest lies behind his party’s reluctance to get these debates on. But no one should want the outcome of the next election distorted by the number of direct mailshots and billboard posters a party can buy.”
By law each political party is allowed to spend £19 million on campaigns in the 12 months before a general election. Labour officials believe the Conservatives, who have more rich backers, will spend at least three times as much than than their own party.
Labour wants talks with broadcasters to start immediately but the Tories want to delay discussions until after this autumn’s party conferences.
In his article, Mr Miliband said his “starting point” was the same formula as 2010, with three debates between the three leaders three weeks apart. “I am not going to give the Conservatives the excuse to walk off the pitch by claiming we have moved the goalposts,” he wrote.
But Labour officials do not rule out a different approach if that ensures Mr Miliband can go head to head with Mr Cameron.
The Liberal Democrats may take legal action if there is an attempt to squeeze Nick Clegg out of the picture by staging a Cameron versus Miliband “choice of prime minister” debate. Nigel Farage will demand a place in any general election debates if, as expected, Ukip does well in next month’s European elections.
Mr Cameron insists he is committed to debates. But he does not want them to dominate the campaign as they did in 2010 and has suggested that one or more debates could be held at an earlier stage next year.
- 1 Engineer pictured fixing plane's engine with 'duct tape' by concerned EasyJet passenger
- 2 Two-year-old says goodbye to bin man best friend
- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb
Engineer pictured fixing plane's engine with 'duct tape' by concerned EasyJet passenger
Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
Ancient 2,400-year-old gold bongs discovered in Russia
Porn stars in California may be forced to wear goggles under new legislation
Tampon tax scrapped in Canada after petition convinces conservative government
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...
£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...