Brown accepts TV debate

By Ian Dunt

Gordon Brown has accepted the need for a TV debate between himself, Nick Clegg and David Cameron, but wants to get on with it now.

The campaign for a debate was led by Sky News, which wanted the three leaders to appear together during the general election campaign.

Both opposition leaders readily agreed to the suggestion, but Mr Brown told reporters he would consider it.

Rumours abounded at the Labour party conference that a promise to pursue the debate would appear in his conference speech – but they came to nothing.

In a letter to Labour supporters yesterday, Downing Street confirmed the prime minister would partake in a debate, but that now was a good time to have it.

Regardless of the timing, or of which broadcaster acquires the rights, a televised debate between the party leaders would be unprecedented.

Britain, unlike most western democracies, has no tradition of televised debates between party leaders during general elections.

But conducting one now is likely to precipitate a trend, and the debates will almost certainly become a confirmed feature of general election campaigns if it goes ahead.