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Gordon Brown is still dithering over whether to debate David Cameron on TV during the election campaign

Sky Leaders' debate graphic

At the beginning of September, Sky News launched its campaign to get the three party leaders to agree to a series of TV debates during the general election campaign.

David Cameron was quick to agree, and Nick Clegg followed in indicating his willingness to participate. But four weeks later and we are still yet to get a straight answer from Gordon Brown.

The Tory leader called on the Prime Minister to "get off the fence" a few days ago and last night it initially appeared that Brown was ready to do just that and say during his speech to the Labour conference this afternoon that he was ready to take part in the debate.

Indeed, today's Times reports that "Gordon Brown is poised to agree to a series of televised election debates that aides believe will enable him to show up David Cameron’s lack of experience and seize back the political initiative"; but the FT seems to suggest that he is still unsure about whether to make a solid commitment:

"The prime minister spent hours on Monday night agonising over whether to include in his speech a decision to take part in a US-style television debate with rival party leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg. However, he is understood to have put that announcement on hold."

We'll find out later on if he opts to mention the matter in his speech in Brighton - which I will be live-blogging from 2.15pm.

8.30am update: Nick Robinson has just said on the Today programme that the speech had included a passage saying that Brown wanted a series of TV debates with Cameron starting now, but that this had now been removed from the final draft on the grounds that Labour strategists wanted the speech to focus on policy not tactics.

Jonathan Isaby 


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