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Party leaders agree to three televised election debates

Brown Clegg and Cameron According to the Telegraph, a deal has been done that will see history made in the run-up to next year's general election with three debates being held between the party leaders:

"It will be the first time that British party leaders have gone head-to-head in a live television battle similar to those in American presidential elections. Barring a last-minute hitch an announcement will be made tonight. It comes after fierce negotiating between Number 10, David Cameron’s office and the BBC, ITV News and Sky News."

David Cameron was of course the first to agree to the proposal when put by Sky News back in September.

According to the BBC, all three leaders will take part in the debates with the following schedule:

  1. ITV debate chaired by Alistair Stewart
  2. Sky News debate chaired by Adam Boulton
  3. BBC debate chaired by David Dimbleby

5.45pm update:

David Cameron at Cameron Direct Speaking at a Cameron Direct meeting in Leamington Spa, David Cameron welcomed the agreement as "a thoroughly good thing":

"I've been pushing for two years for this to happen, I've always believed in live television debates. I think they can help enliven our democracy, I think they will help answer people's questions, I think they will help crystallise the debate about the change this country needs and I'm delighted that they are taking place. I think it's a step forward for our democracy and I think it's something that, in such a bad year for politics and Parliament, we can proudly celebrate. We've joined the 21st century, when every other democracy seems to have leader's debates, we're now going to have them right here in Britain and I think that's a very good thing."

Reaction from Tim Montgomerie: "I am disappointed if this story is true. Heading for a massive defeat these debates are a lifeline for Gordon Brown. They will also be a big boost for Nick Clegg. He'll be given a status that the third party in British politics has never had before. Polls suggest Cameron will win the debate and there are very low expectations for Brown (which will suit his advisers). I hope CCHQ don't live to regret this decision."

> Tim Montgmerie's full reaction to the proposed TV debates

> Jonathan Isaby explains why he is delighted the debates are taking place

Jonathan Isaby


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