Televised debate without Ashdown `unacceptable'

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Indy Politics
The exclusion of Paddy Ashdown from a planned party leaders' television debate would be "utterly unacceptable," according to a report published today, writes Fran Abrams.

The paper, published by the Hansard Society, also says there should be audience participation in the debate, and that it could possibly be split over three weeks.

However, the senior academic who has written the report says that in the past such debates have not had a significant impact on the result of elections.

Dr Stephen Coleman, of the London School of Economics, says that now a decision has been taken in principle to have a debate, it must be organised with the utmost fairness. The report says: "It would be utterly unacceptable to exclude the leader of the third party considering that it is contesting as many seats as the Conservative and Labour parties, will win millions of votes and a significant share of the overall votes cast, and may play a key role in forming or influencing the formation of the next government."

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