Corbyn challenges Cameron to TV "state of the nation" debate

It comes as new research has shown that TV debates increase political awareness and voter engagement

Corbyn challenges Cameron to TV "state of the nation" debate

File photos of Prime Minister David Cameron (left) and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has challenged Mr Cameron to take part in an annual "state of the nation" televised debate with other political leaders. (PA Wire)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has challenged David Cameron to take part in an annual TV "state of the nation" debate.

Mr Corbyn said he hoped to get the Prime Minister's support for a debate on the dominant issues of the year between Britain's national political leaders.

Under the proposal, the leaders would also face questions from voters.

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon and her Liberal Democrat counterpart Tim Farron have said they would back the plan and take part in debates if Mr Cameron agreed, the Independent reported.

Mr Corbyn told the paper: "I am challenging the Prime Minister to an annual televised 'state of the nation' debate of the party leaders.

"People are entitled to know more about their political leaders and to have their government held to account by the elected opposition in every way possible.

"It is crucial that the Prime Minister and Government are held to account, both inside and outside Parliament, throughout their period in office - not just at election time."

Mr Corbyn said he hoped the debates would build on his leadership election pledge for politicians to engage more directly with voters.

His challenge came after researchers found the televised debates during the last General Election campaign had an overwhelmingly positive impact on voter engagement.

The Leeds University study found the debates increased voters' interest in politics by 30%, while 60% of first debate viewers said they knew "more about some of the policies that were being put forward".

The 2010 and 2015 televised debates provided some of the key moments of those election campaigns.

The 2010 clashes saw Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg soar in the polls as David Cameron and Gordon Brown asserted: "I agree with Nick."

In 2015, there were months of talks amid reluctance from the Conservatives to commit to a series of confrontations between David Cameron and Ed Miliband just before polling day.

Ms Sturgeon emerged as the star of the debates, helping the SNP to a near clean sweep of Scottish Westminster seats.