UK & World News
PM Accused Of Dragging Feet On TV Debates
Ed Miliband has accused David Cameron of "dragging his feet" over televised leadership debates ahead of the General Election.
The Labour leader and his Liberal Democrat counterpart, Nick Clegg, have already "signed on the dotted line" to participate in the showdowns.
However, according to Mr Miliband, the Prime Minister has become the "biggest single obstacle" to them going ahead, suggesting political manoeuvring by the Conservative Party.
In an interview with the Radio Times, Mr Miliband said: "It is a pity that the Conservatives will not even sit down to begin negotiations until later this year - when it will be harder to secure an agreement - and have stalled at every opportunity they have been given to do so.
"I can only assume that Mr Cameron wants his party's deep pockets to be used for maximum advantage and that perceived political self-interest lies behind his party's reluctance to get these debates on."
He said it should not be that the outcome of the election should be skewed by the number of "mailshots and billboard posters" a party could afford and that the television debates helped level the playing field.
Mr Miliband said he wanted the debates to be less formal and for people to be able to ask more questions.
Britain first televised leadership debates ahead of the 2010 election with Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Gordon Brown going head to head in three separate duels on Sky News, the BBC and ITV.
Mr Cameron has already said publicly he wants them to be repeated ahead of the vote in 2015 but has complained that the 2010 debates "took all the life out" of the campaign.
His spokesman said on Tuesday there would be no discussions between the parties about the TV debates until after autumn's party conferences.
He said: "His view is that the debates are a good thing and his view hasn't changed from the fact, as he has already expressed, that he thinks they should be held over a longer period of time, particularly now we are in a fixed-term parliament."
There have been some questions over who should be allowed to participate in the debates with a suggestions that UKIP leader Nigel Farage should be invited to join in.
However, Mr Cameron has ruled this out, saying the showdowns should only be for those with a reasonable prospect of becoming prime minister.
There have also been suggestions Mr Cameron may attempt to leave Mr Clegg out and instead just go toe to toe with the Labour leader.
Mr Clegg told the Financial Times he would "struggle to think of even half a respectable excuse the Conservatives could come up with to deny the British people the right to see the party leaders measuring up against each other in a leaders' debate".
Shadow cabinet minister Michael Dugher - who is on the party's negotiating team - said the Prime Minister was scared of entering the fray.
He told Radio 4's Today programme: "I can see why Cameron doesn't fancy it; he is like a fighter with a glass jaw with his record of failure, broken promises, standing up for the wrong people. But that's not good enough."