David Cameron and Ed Miliband have been considering a proposal to join a live internet “digital debate” ahead of the general election campaign.
The leaders of the Liberal Democrats, Ukip and the Greens have already accepted an invitation for to take part in the debate on 26 or 27 March. The Conservatives and Labour are examining the detailed joint bid by the Guardian, the Telegraph Media Group and Google, which owns YouTube.
The move to break the impasse over televised debates came as Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband swapped insults in the Commons over the issue.
The Labour leader accused the Prime Minister of being “chicken” by refusing to agree to a head-to-head debate with him.
Mr Cameron retorted that he should be facing off against Alex Salmond as the former SNP leader would be “calling the tune” if Mr Miliband made it to Downing Street.
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
Election Analysis: The Key Voters
1/6 Settled Silvers
These are the comfortably-off over-60s, still in work or drawing a decent pension – or both – who are enjoying their entitlements such as the Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes and free TV licence. They are worried about immigration and Europe. Both the Conservatives – who are pledging to keep benefits for wealthier pensioners – and Ukip want their votes
2/6 Squeezed Semis
Slightly older than the Harassed Hipsters, they are the second key group for Labour’s family-focused election strategy. They are married couples on low to middle incomes who own unpretentious semi-detached homes in suburban areas. In 2001, these were the Pebbledash People sought by the Conservatives. Now the pebbledash is gone and a modest conservatory has been built at the back
3/6 Aldi Woman
In 1997 and 2001 she was Worcester Woman – a middle-class Middle Englander shopping at Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Today, the age of austerity means she still goes to Waitrose for her basic food shop but cannily switches to Aldi for her luxury bargains such as Parma ham and prosecco. Identified by Caroline Flint, she is a key target of both Labour and the Conservatives
4/6 Glass Ceiling Woman
In her thirties or forties, she has an established career under her belt, perhaps in the “marzipan layer” – one position below the still male-dominated senior executive level. She is now, according to Nick Clegg, forced into making the “heart-breaking choice” between staying at home to bring up her children and going to work and forking out for high-cost, round-the-clock childcare
5/6 Harassed Hipsters
One of the two key groups identified by Labour as crucial to hand Ed Miliband the keys to Downing Street. Well-paid professional couples, often with children, they live in diverse urban and metropolitan areas rather than the suburbs. More comfortably off than most swing voters, they are time poor – struggling to balance raising a young family with busy work schedules
These are mainly first-time voters, though some are in their twenties – students and digital-age generation renters helping to fuel the “Green Surge”. Idealists, but with no tribal loyalty to any party, they are anti-austerity, middle class, living in urban areas. Despite studying at university or recently graduated, they are struggling to find decent jobs and want cheaper housing and a higher minimum wage
Later Downing Street categorically ruled out the Prime Minister’s participation in a head-to-head debate with the Labour leader. It stressed that his offer to join a seven-way debate with party leaders before the campaign gets underway on 30 March was his final position.
Meanwhile, Lord Hall, the BBC’s director general, hit back last night at accusations the broadcasters were “bullying” politicians into taking part in televised election debates.
He said: “We want the debates to take place because the public wants the debates to take place.”
He said the clashes would be an “important addition to democracy” and added: “Let us see if with a little bit of goodwill we can make something happen.”
Lord Hall was responding to a claim by Lord Grade, the former chairman of the BBC and ITV, that broadcasters were breaching impartiality rules by threatening to stage the debates without Mr Cameron.Reuse content