UK & World News
Miliband Urges Cameron To Commit To TV Debate
Ed Miliband has given television debates in the run-up to the next general election his full backing and challenged David Cameron to sign up.
The Labour leader told Sky News there was no reason why the format should not be the same as in 2010 when the debates played a crucial part in the campaign.
The next election is less than two years away but there is still no confirmation that the clashes between party leaders will be repeated.
Mr Miliband piled pressure on Mr Cameron by unequivocally supporting the approach as he was interviewed by Sky's Political Editor Adam Boulton at the end of Labour's party conference.
Riding high after his keynote speech on Wednesday, he declared: "You have my commitment that I will do the same as we did last time. I think we need those TV debates.
"We have got big debates to have about energy and other issues. I say bring on those TV debates in the general election campaign. I am looking forward to them. I hope the Prime Minister will be there.
"We had a format last time - it was good for our democracy ... I don't see why our starting point should not be the same as last time - let's have those debates."
A Downing Street spokesman later told Sky News that the Prime Minister agreed "in principle" with TV debates ahead of the 2015 election "but would like to discuss the format and timing during the election campaign".
The three debates in 2010 between Mr Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown were staged by Sky, the BBC and ITV and helped raise Mr Clegg's profile significantly.
They were credited with turning the election race on its head and Mr Cameron faced criticism for allowing the Lib Dem leader to be involved.
Ultimately, the surge in Lib Dem support waned and did not translate into votes but Mr Clegg still ended up as kingmaker because there was a hung parliament.
The Lib Dem leader told Sky last week that he believed the debates were an "important addition" and should be repeated.
"I'm ready to have TV debates whenever they are organised. I think they were a good innovation last time," he said.
Also in his interview on Sky, Mr Miliband dismissed claims about his energy price freeze causing blackouts as "scare stories".
"The real thing that shapes investment decisions in energy is the long-term framework," the former Energy Secretary insisted.
And he denied that his conference speech, which included a string of left-wing policies, was designed to appeal to Labour's core vote.
"This is a strategy to reach out to people right across this country who are suffering from the cost-of-living crisis," he said.