PM calls for tweaking of TV debates

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Televised leaders’ debates in the 2015 general election could be staged before the actual campaign begins, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested yesterday.

Following speculation he may block a repeat of the TV clashes that dominated the 2010 election, the Conservative leader insisted: “I want the debates to take place.”

But he said the format could be tweaked to ensure the rest of the campaign is not overshadowed.

Mr Cameron told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “I want the debates to take place. They were good in the last election.”

But he added: “I thought they took up too much of the campaign, so I think we could start them a bit earlier.

“My only regret is that if you are leading a political party, the election campaign is a moment when you really want to get around the country, you want to have arguments and interviews, and I found the whole election was just the run-up to the debate, the debate, and the analysis of the debate.

“Now we’ve got a fixed-term Parliament, we can stretch those things out a bit.”

Mr Cameron said there was “lots of time for negotiation” over the exact format of the broadcasts before the election scheduled for May 2015.

But he made clear that he does not believe Ukip leader Nigel Farage should be invited to take part alongside himself, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

“I think the debate predominantly should be about people who have a prospect of becoming Prime Minister,” said Mr Cameron.

Asked if he thought that Mr Farage was among the figures who could potentially become PM, he replied: “I don’t think so, no.”

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