The Greens will be in the TV debates, as BBC and ITV propose new line-ups

SNP and Plaid Cymru are also invited.

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More good news for the Greens this week, as it looks like they will be taking part in the televised leaders' debates after all.

The Radio Times has an exclusive story that both the BBC and ITV have put in bids to broadcast seven-way panels including the party leaders of the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, Ukip, Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP. This means that two of the TV debates will include Natalie Bennett, who has long been arguing the case for the Greens to participate, following Ofcom ruling against them being a "major party".

Both the BBC and ITV have agreed to hold identical debates featuring seven political party leaders under these new proposals, which are being mooted to the politicians concerned today. In a joint statement, reported by the Radio Times, the broadcasters said they, “remain committed to providing election debates in the run-up to the general election. The debates played an important role in informing millions of our viewers in 2010 and we will continue to work with all the parties to ensure that they happen again in 2015”.

Channel 4 and Sky News, meanwhile, are sticking to the straightforward David Cameron/Ed Miliband head-to-head format.

It will be interesting to watch the Prime Minister's next move, now these new plans are afoot. Cameron has very vocally (and very cynically) refused to take part in the leaders' debates unless the Greens are invited. Now that they have been, he will have to be involved. The only blow for the PM is that it's clear he would rather not take part in the debates at all, because there is no political incentive for him to do so. Why, when continuing to poll ahead of your party, would you want to risk it by appearing alongside  and on the same level  as your political rivals? Particularly the likes of Ukip, which has the luxury of swiping from the sidelines.

Ed Miliband may also be apprehensive about this new plan, what with the Green party beginning to split the left-wing vote and threatening Labour's electoral chances.
 

UPDATE 16.31

The DUP leader, Nigel Dodds MP, is writing to the BBC and ITV asking why his party won't be included in the debates: "It would be ludicrous to exclude the DUP," he says.

 

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.

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