UK's William Hague attacks Assad's Syria elections plan

 

William Hague read out an agreed statement in which the Friends of Syria vowed further help for Syria's opposition

Presidential elections in Syria will be a "parody of democracy", UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

Mr Hague said Syria's government had an "utter disregard" for life, and President Bashar al-Assad decision to call an election for 3 June "disgusted" the international community.

The foreign secretary also announced the Syrian opposition would have its diplomatic status in the UK upgraded.

Syria's three-year conflict has left some 150,000 people dead.

The UK is continuing to push for President Assad to stand down, but he has sought a third seven-year term in the elections.

'Illegitimate'

Mr Hague hosted a meeting of the The Friends of Syria group - made up of Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US - in London.

Afterwards, he said: "We are of course united in our disgust and anger at what's happening in Syria and the ruthless utter disregard for human life."

The group agreed a short communique criticising the decision to hold an election at a time when millions of people were displaced and the bloodshed was continuing.

Mr Hague called on the whole international community to "reject these illegitimate elections", saying: "We've also agreed unanimously to take further steps to... do everything we can to hold the Assad regime accountable for the terror it is perpetrating."

He promised the UK government would increase its humanitarian efforts, with £30m of extra funding.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said this money would be used for "a range of different things including helping the opposition and supporting regional sustainability".

In a separate media briefing, US Secretary of State John Kerry commented on France's claim that the Assad government has used chemical weapons at least 14 times since October.

He said he had seen "raw data that suggests that there may have been... a number of instances in which chlorine has been used in the conduct of war".

Mr Kerry added: "If it has, and it could be proven, then that would be against the agreements of the chemical weapons treaty and against the weapons convention that Syria has signed up to."

"Out of today's meeting, every facet of what can be done is going to be ramped up - every facet. That includes political effort. It includes aid to the opposition. It includes economic efforts, sanctions," he said.

Friends of Syria was set up in 2012 in response to moves by Russia and China to block UN resolutions against the Assad government.

The meeting comes days after UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi stepped down over lack of progress in ending the crisis.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 489.

    The irony is the "Rebels" worst enemies isn't the government now but the extremists who are fighting for their own agenda and using any means to do it. What The FOS group hasn't or/and most likely doesn't care about is even if they overthrow Assad it'll either be Libya all over again with a weak leadership leading to more instability or Islamic extremists calling the shots.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 488.

    We in Syria have an anecdote which tells of a woman boiling pebbles to dupe her hungry children that she is cooking food for them so that they'll stop crying.The Western powers are doing the same to shut up the Syrian people.The choice is very clear: the certainty that Iran will prevaile if the regime wins or the faint possibility that extreme islamists will dominate. The latter are easy to defeat

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 487.

    486 posts, and not 1 to say that we should intervene, or the logistics involved,or those very good statesmanlike reasons why the UK simply MUST take the lead.Time for all of us to give this up,as there is no sway of opinion to tell us how wrong we are to say "No" to yet another proposed foreign war.Let us sit this one out, and say no more aid until the USA, Eurozone, Moslem World, etc.,contribute

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 486.

    "the UK is continuing to push for President Assad to stand down, but he has sought a third seven-year term in the elections"
    So who do they want to replace him the nice chaps the Americans are backing I.s.i.s I believe there called. Hague maybe talk instead of the Sunni slaughter houses butchering the minority christians. It's strange how you don't care for this potential genocide.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 485.

    It's no coincidence that the current enemies of the west represent the last resistence to the global banking cartels and therefore they must go. Covert funding and arming of terrorists resulting in regime change and if that doesn't work, send in the cruise missiles. One way or another, the sovereignty of every nation will be lost. Iraq, Libya, Syria - they all have or had public central banks.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 484.

    The only thing that's a "parody" Mr. Hague is your foreign policy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 483.

    @461.

    The Ukraine does not have a Libyan dictator like Gadaffi or Assad or Saddam. The Ukranian people & parliament are not protesting now against their new temporary leader.

    No the protestors & instigators are simply russian agents trying the same take over tactics as in Crimea with russian troops waiting on the border.

    ISAF should now enter the Ukraine with 5-10 thousand peace keepers.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 482.

    People on hear asking why Hague is against democracy in "other countries" , I am surprised at the question as I thought everyone knew by now that politicians don't want democracy anywhere as most of them would be out of a job

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 481.

    John Kerry throwing another unverified claim of chemical weapons usage , will he again pluck some magical number (1429) out of the sky ?

    When he quoted that magic number last year he was not made to provide any evidence even though no other source claimed such a high (or accurate !) number of casualties/deaths.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 480.

    @478.

    The west (governments & most people) support democracy, not murderous dictators. Assad is a dictator, is it better for a leader to resign or destroy his whole country & hundreds of thousands of people & should the world not encourage Assad's resignation & fair UN verified elections ??

    Many people in the Ukraine wanted a new leader & democracy, not a russian puppet.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 479.

    Quote from William Hague "We are of course united in our disgust and anger at what's happening in Syria and the ruthless utter disregard for human life."

    Would that be the "rebels" who :
    1. Murdered 48 people in a blast near the Turkish border.?
    2. Shot a Times journalist in the legs and beat up him and his colleague ?

    I used the term "rebels" as it seems the BBC refuse to call them terrorists !

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 478.

    In Ukraine a democratically elected president was evicted by a howling mob, just imagine that in UK. We evict Cameron by rioting! In both Ukraine & Syria the "West" now supports illegal " take overs" by (in some cases) terrorists because it suits their anti Russian/Assad policies. Just who are the good guys here??

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 477.

    It has to be proven who has been using these chlorine & chemical weapons, Syria or the rebels ?

    On other world issues & international treaties it seems that many countries are selfishly happy to do nothing & let evil continue. Whereas some countries like many western countries who get accused of being the world's police at least try to do something to uphold international rules & can be proud.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 476.

    @453.

    The elections in Syria will be run by a dictator who has been in power for way to long, do you think they will be fair ? Or is this a case where some countries like Russia don't want fair elections because they are scared of extremists maybe being elected who won't want to be russian puppets?

    The Crimea election was full of mistakes & without proper security & checks.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 475.

    Reckon that this topic has been done to death,every argument has been raised,EXCEPT the "Whys", "Hows" ,"WHO Withs" and "Whens" of any Western Military Involvement, I think it is that anyone of that view can see no reasons,for there are no reasons, to send our Armed Forces into action, and so their silence is golden,though their eyes can see the views expressed here and elsewhere.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 474.

    Yes no one should want to rush in & be involved in wars. This Syria war is also complicated with Russia & Iran heavily involved & why should "onward christian soldiers" get involved & pay the costs & lives & get no thanks for trying to stop the war & human suffering.

    One issue is Syria using chlorine & chemical weapons against the treaty they signed & should other countries just ignore this ?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 473.

    There's 'bad guys' (using an Americanism) on both sides. Siding with one over the other is effectively subsidising terrorism.

    And why are we so arrogant to sit up way up high in our moral ivory embellished towers telling other nations what to do?

    The age of the empire is over. Time to concentrate on putting our own house in order, before involving ourselves (again) in foreign conflicts.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 472.

    I deplore the lack of leadership and moral fibre on the whole question of Syria, the world seems to just wring its hands as thousands die or are displaced. It does not bode well for the future at all. Edmund Burke wrote:
    „All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 471.

    I take it Tony Blair and Gordon Brown .Will be helping Assad .TONY.B has previous on how to get a none elected in the P.Ms Job.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 470.

    Hague is the worst foreign secretary we have ever had. He only wants to be an American poodle and suck up to Saudi Arabia for their oil.

    He just doesn't get it! The British public have said no to intervention in Syria or supporting a rabble of Saudi / US backed Islamists.

    Our politicians have learned nothing from Iraq or Afghanistan.

 

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  41.  
    10:11: Your say

    Some more of your views on the TV debates

    David Cameron gives Ed Miliband a thumping (metaphorically) every Wednesday at PMQs - I don't think for a minute that he's running scared or has anything to prove.

    D.Williams

    Politicians are there to serve us, not vice versa and television is a great medium to reach millions across the country, allowing us to hear how they propose to do that and get a measure of their leadership qualities.

    Garan Jenkin

    If Cameron can't be bothered to turn up for debates (plural) then I can't be bothered to turn out and vote.

    Colin Smale

    A pointless exercise overhyped by journalists with nothing better to do. The politicians will tell us what they think we want to hear. Far better to judge them on what they have done over the lat few years. Parliamentary question time is a disgrace by all parties

    Rob Whitrow

     
  42.  
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    Campbell

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    Nigel Farage

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  46.  
    09:48: Clegg on spending Call Clegg

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  47.  
    09:47: Tony Blair donation

    A bit more on Tony Blair's decision to donate £106,000 in total to Labour candidates fighting the election. In a letter to candidates in key seats, the former PM says: "I know how hard it can be to raise money to fund a local campaign, but for you, in one of our 106 battleground seats, it is even more vital. This is where the election will be won for Labour and that is why I am making a donation to all 106 campaigns."

     
  48.  
    09:38: TV debates latest
    Leaders

    Here's our latest story on the TV debates, leading off with David Cameron's political opponents accusing him of running scared.

     
  49.  
    09:35: Clegg on eurostar Call Clegg

    Nick Clegg tells LBC the sale of Eurostar was a good deal and good value for the taxpayer. He says the state is not simply there to manage transport companies. But he says infrastructure - particularly HS2 - carries many benefits for the country. The line "is something which is long long long overdue", the deputy prime minister adds.

     
  50.  
    @AlexForsythBBC Alex Forsyth, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: So @David_Cameron seems to have unified political parties from across the spectrum in their response to his position on #debates

     
  51.  
    09:25: Clegg on drugs policy Call Clegg

    Meanwhile, over on LBC's Call Clegg phone-in, the deputy PM is talking about drug laws. Mr Clegg says the full force of the criminal justice system should be focussed on those criminals and gags who peddle illegal drugs and "profit from misery" of addiction. The comments come after news that the Liberal Democrats' manifesto will include a pledge to hand drugs policy from the Home Office to the Department of Health.

    The system at the moment "just doesn't make sense", Mr Clegg says, but adds that drugs will still remain illegal and there will still be civil penalties for users.

     
  52.  
    09:22: Nicola Sturgeon on debates
    Nicola Sturgeon

    SNP leader of Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon is the latest politician to criticise David Cameron over his refusal to take part in more than one TV debate. She says he is "clearly running scared of having to answer for his government's record of failure and incompetence - and this arrogance in trying to lay down the law is all about getting out of debates, not taking part".

    "I will debate him anytime, anywhere, on any number of occasions. However we have accepted the broadcasters' proposals, and believe we should stick with that, rather than allow a Tory Prime Minister to dictate the terms of debate."

     
  53.  
    09:13: Deputy PM on debates Call Clegg

    Nick Clegg has told LBC he is prepared to stand up and defend the government in the TV debates if David Cameron doesn't take part. The deputy prime minister says he is "about the only person who is prepared to step up to the plate and actually defend the record of this government."

     
  54.  
    09:06: 'Down to the broadcasters ' Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    It all hinges on what the broadcasters do now. At the moment, they are saying nothing in public. But privately, they seem determined to tough this out.

     
  55.  
    09:05: Labour's Scottish challenge
    Ballot box

    There are other political stories today, even if the debate row is drowning out coverage. Prof John Curtice has been speaking to BBC Scotland about Labour's prospects north of the border at the election. He said there may be tough times ahead for the party after new polling by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft suggested big gains for the SNP at May's election.

     
  56.  
    @xtophercook Chris Cook, Newsnight policy editor

    tweets: I don't get why CCHQ doesn't just say "Last time, we think the debates were a distraction and we would rather run a traditional campaign"

     
  57.  
    09:03: Your say

    Politics Live readers on TV debates

    Mr Cameron, in effect, is the CEO of the United Kingdom. His duty is to abide by what the electorate requests or risk losing power, he has already lost face. He doesn't want to stand in front of his company's employees and explain his failures.

    Chris

    Either David Cameron or Ed Miliband will be obliged to form a (probably minority) government on 8th May so why is Cameron running scared of a 1 to 1 debate with Miliband?

    ... The public want to see an old fashioned 1 to 1 between the 2 potential Prime Ministers and if it doesn't happen it will be David Cameron's fault.

    Andy Kirkland

    If the conservatives think Ed Miliband is so weak why is David Cameron not willing to go head to head with him?

    Pat Pierce.

    Cameron is always going on about the achievements of this Government, how at all costs the good work being done should continue and not change course, the long term etc. If he speaks so passionately about this and how anything else would be utter chaos and doom, and he wants people to vote Tory, why does he not go all out in TV debate with Miliband and pull opposition apart and vice versa, so the voters get to see a real debate.

    K.Pearce

     
  58.  
    @IsabelHardman Isabel Hardman, assistant editor at The Spectator

    tweets: Tory MPs are in a mutinous mood over defence spending, dismissed as having "no votes". Me in today's Times

     
  59.  
    08:47: 'Thatcher would have debated' BBC News Channel

    Lord Ashdown tells the BBC he can't imagine Margaret Thatcher refusing to take part in debates - he says David Cameron's decision is "unbelievable". The former Lib Dem leader adds that broadcasters should go ahead with their plans and "empty-chair" the prime minister if needs be.

     
  60.  
    08:46: Greens on TV debates
    Nathalie Bennett

    The Green Party has just released a statement on the TV debate row: "This swerve by Cameron will further damage trust in our political system. Not only is Cameron's announcement cowardly but it also shows his contempt for the electorate.

    "People want to see a set of debates between all major party leaders, yet the Prime Minister is clearly scared of scrutiny.

    "Natalie is very much looking forward to debating with the other 6 party leaders. David Cameron must not be allowed to scupper these plans."

     
  61.  
    @jimwaterson Jim Waterson, BuzzFeed UK deputy editor

    tweets: Happy to host a seven-way leaders' debate over Twitter group DMs at a time that suits the parties.

     
  62.  
    08:40: What's happened so far?

    It's been a busy morning in Westminster. Here's a quick recap for those of you heading to work or just arriving at the office:

    There's bound to be plenty more to come. We'll bring you all the latest news and analysis. Don't forget to let us know your views; emails is politics@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcpolitics.

     
  63.  
    @kayburley Kay Burley, Sky News presenter

    tweets: So @campbellclaret says he's been prepping @Ed_Miliband for #TVdebates by 'playing David Cameron' Now there's a thought...

     
  64.  
    08:27: Harvey Proctor BBC Radio 4 Today

    "The police wish to interview me", Mr Proctor says. He wants it to happen "at the earliest opportunity", he adds.

     
  65.  
    08:25: Harvey Proctor BBC Radio 4 Today

    Harvey Proctor says he was a discreet man and he would not have discussed his sexuality with senior colleagues in the Commons. He tells Today he did not know about alleged sex abuse. He says he is "sure" some of the allegations are true, but others are not.

     
  66.  
    08:24: Harvey Proctor on claims BBC Radio 4 Today

    Former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor is speaking to Today after his house was searched by police. The police have told him they are investigating historical sex abuse allegations going back to 1970s and 1980s, he says. The offences he committed in the past would no longer be offences - they related to the age of consent, he adds. He denies ever attending sex parties of being part of any "rent boy ring" with high profile figures.

     
  67.  
    08:21: Debate fallout BBC Radio 5 live
    Lord Carlile

    Reaction to the debates row is pouring in. This is from Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile:

    "I think we should found our debates on the system we've got, upon a credible approach and treating the public as intelligent people and the Prime Minister I'm afraid is running scared from it because he knows how well Nick Clegg did at the last election so he doesn't want him in the debates."

    On plans for a seven-party debate, he adds: "I most certainly will not be watching a bun fight of that kind because I think it will be extremely uninformative. I think the public should be treated with respect in this controversy and the public expect that this will be resolved on the basis of the election system we have, like it or not."

     
  68.  
    08:19: Lord Ashdown on debates BBC Radio 4 Today

    The biggest losers from this are the British people, says Lord Ashdown. He accuses the prime minister of "cowardice" and suggests the debates could become a right for the British people.

     
  69.  
    08:16: Lord Ashdown on debates BBC Radio 4 Today

    Lord Ashdown asks "why on earth" should David Cameron be allowed to "veto" debates? He says the Lib Dems will take part in whatever debates take place. He says Nick Clegg will be happy to debate Ed Miliband on the government's record if Mr Cameron won't.

     
  70.  
    08:15: Lord Ashdown on debates BBC Radio 4 Today
    Lord Ashdown

    Lord Ashdown, chairman of Liberal Democrats election campaign, says David Cameron is frightened of "defending his own position" during the TV debates. The peer says what the prime minister is proposing is "ludicrous" and highlights it would come out before the Conservative election is published.

     
  71.  
    @georgegalloway George Galloway, MP

    tweets: How pathetic must a PM be that he is "frit" to debate with Ed Miliband....?

     
  72.  
    Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    tweets: Ed Miliband met BBC boss Tony Hall last night to urge broadcasters to stand firm over #tvdebates

     
  73.  
    @tnewtondunn Tom Newton Dunn, The Sun political editor

    tweets: "Cameron accused of running scared on TV debates..." is the headline on BBC bulletins, who stand to lose out considerably by No10's offer.

     
  74.  
    08:07: Devolution for Cornwall
    Cornwall flag

    The Liberal Democrats want to offer the people of Cornwall a legislative assembly with powers to run local services. The option of a Cornish Assembly would be put to a referendum under the party's plans. Nick Clegg - who is in Cornwall today - says the reform would mean housing, healthcare and transport decisions were taken locally.

     
  75.  
    07:58: 'Rule out SNP pact'
    Scottish Labour

    The Scotsman reports this morning that Labour's Scottish MPs are demanding a deal with the SNP is ruled out before the election. The newspaper says the call came yesterday at a weekly meeting of party MPs from north of the border. There were "no dissenting voices" when the issue was raised by Edinburgh MP Ian Murray, the report adds.

     
  76.  
    07:50: Former MP's home searched

    The home of Harvey Proctor, the former Conservative MP who left Parliament in the 1980s, has been searched by police investigating historical allegations of child abuse and murder or manslaughter. Our home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds says the move is part of Operation Midland, launched after a man in his forties alleged he was abused by a group of "prominent individuals" in the 1970s and 1980s.

     
  77.  
    Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: If parties invited to debates insist they happen & broadcasters stand by plan to press on whoever turns up, this will be an almighty scrap

     
  78.  
    07:39: Blair Labour donation
    Blair

    The Times is reporting this morning that former prime minister Tony Blair has donated £106,000 to Labour candidates around the UK. The money, from Mr Blair's private fortune, will be divided between 106 of Labour's target seats, the newspaper says.

     
  79.  
    07:32: Your say

    A selection of comments from Politics Live readers on the TV debates

    Rather than what broadcasters or what political parties want regarding debates, what about what the electorate wants?

    The debates at the last election and the Scottish referendum debates were widely watched and helped reconnect the public with the political process. They took leaders out of their ivory towers and made them more accountable to the people they are supposed to lead.

    Cameron refusing to take part in debates shows his contempt for this process and a fear of public scrutiny. I really think the Tories have made a major error of judgement here, the electorate will not be gentle.

    Ged Roddam

    The prime minister has stated he only wants one debate. It is not the broadcasters who should pressurise otherwise. They need to respect his position on this, as do the other parties who are name calling.

    Broadcasters would not be pressurising the CEO of a large company on how to run their business...

    Sara Brewer

    Do you agree? Email is politics@bbc.co.uk with your views.

     
  80.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Lib Dem view on debates is they'll do them even if not happy about format. Will broadcasters - as they've suggested - go ahead without PM?

     
  81.  
    @PickardJE Jim Pickard, Financial Times

    tweets: Alastair Campbell is outraged by Cameron wriggling from TV debates. Reminded he blocked Blair from doing so in 1997 he tells #today: "True."

     
  82.  
    07:22: One man debate? BBC Radio 4 Today

    Asked if Ed Miliband should offer to take part in a debate alone, Alastair Campbell says it's a "tactical judgement", but Mr Miliband should "probably" press ahead without David Cameron. It's the interest of both the Labour Party and the country as a whole that an Ed Miliband v David Cameron takes place, Mr Campbell adds.

     
  83.  
    @Kevin_Maguire Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror associate editor

    tweets: TV election debates are important in principle. If we adopt a written constitution, put them in alongside secret ballots and spending caps

     
  84.  
    07:15: Campbell on TV debates BBC Radio 4 Today

    Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former director of communications, says David Cameron's decision to only take part in one TV debate is "democratically wrong and morally cowardly". He says Mr Cameron should be honest about why he doesn't want to take part - "he just doesn't want to do them", Mr Campbell says.

     
  85.  
    07:11: One-on-one debate? Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    Is it possible for a "one-on-one" debate to go ahead with just one person? Labour thinks so, our political correspondent reports. The party will insist the plan is credible and could lead to Ed Miliband taking part in a debate with a presenter.

    "If that were to happen, David Cameron would be pursued by a man in a chicken costume throughout the campaign, I'm certain of that", our correspondent adds.

     
  86.  
    07:06: Telegraph on debates The Daily Telegraph

    The Telegraph has penned an editorial which says the televised discussions are good for democracy. The paper argues the debates would "inject some much-needed spontaneity and excitement into the stage-managed, safety-first election campaigning". The piece says broadcasters now need to work together to make sure "some sort of debate" does take place.

     
  87.  
    Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    tweets: Labour say Ed Miliband will still take part in Ch4//Sky head to head debate without the PM

     
  88.  
    @NickyMorgan01 Nicky Morgan, minister for women

    tweets: Looking forward to today's #CWIB2015. Bringing together ambitious business women for masterclasses and mentoring. #womensday

     
  89.  
    06:55: 'Move Parliament to Manchester' The Guardian

    Earlier this week, we reported Commons Speaker John Bercow saying the Houses of Parliament may have to be "abandoned" within 20 years without extensive repair work. There have been a number of suggestions on possible alternatives. Today, Simon Jenkins writes in the Guardian that Parliament should be moved to Manchester, arguing it would be good for democracy.

     
  90.  
    06:51: Broadcasters 'pressing ahead' Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    "Talking to some of those involved last night, my impression at the moment, is the broadcasters are intent on toughing this one out... They do not think that one 90-minute debate involving eight parties in the next fortnight or so is acceptable. They do not think it is acceptable one party should have the power to veto what goes ahead. As things stand they are intent on pressing ahead with the debates as currently scheduled."

     
  91.  
    06:42: Cameron's debate plans Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    Our correspondent has been analysing last night's big debate news.

    The effect is to swing a huge wrecking ball in the direction of the broadcasters' plans for these TV debates, he says. It may demolish all hopes for a debate to be held, or may leave one "paltry" 90-minute debate later this month.

    The clear view of Downing Street is that this is the fault of broadcasters, who they accuse of coming forward with proposals without consultation, to a timetable that was never going to be acceptable, and of failing to get the parties to get together for meaningful negotiations, our correspondent says.

     
  92.  
    06:39: TV debate reaction
    HuffPo

    There is plenty of reaction around to Downing Street's one-debate proposal. Including this, which leaves little doubt as to where the Huffington Post stands on the issue.

     
  93.  
    06:30: Scotland Ashcroft poll

    In other political news you may have missed from last night, a poll suggested the SNP could win Gordon Brown's seat - Kircaldy and Cowdenbeath - at the election in May. The poll by Lord Ashcroft also suggested Charles Kennedy, the former Liberal Democrat leader, could also lose his seat to the nationalists. It's the latest polling which suggests the SNP could make significant gains on 7 May.

     
  94.  
    06:25: The papers
    Daily Telegraph front page - 05/03/15

    Downing Street's announcement that the prime minister will only take part in one TV debate ahead of the election features in several papers, with The Daily Telegraph describing it as an "ultimatum" to broadcasters. The BBC's Alex Kleiderman has the full round-up of the nationals here.

     
  95.  
    06:20: Child benefit changes? BBC Newsnight BBC Two, 22:30

    The BBC has learned the Conservatives are considering limiting child benefit to three children. As Newsnight reported last night, the Treasury has "softened" to the idea, which could save an estimated £300m a year.

     
  96.  
    06:15: Debate bombshell
    Leaders

    In case you missed it, there was a significant development last night on the TV leaders debates, after Downing Street wrote to broadcasters to make a "final offer" of only one debate with seven, possibly eight, leaders. Other parties criticised the PM, accusing him of "acting like a chicken" and the broadcasters have said they will respond to the proposal in due course. Expect more reaction on this story this morning.

     
  97.  
    06:10: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to a fresh Thursday's political coverage. Nick Eardley and Matthew Davis will bring you all the action, reaction and analysis in text and you'll be able to watch and listen to all the main BBC political programmes, from Today and Breakfast through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. Here's how Wednesday unfolded.

     

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