Ed Miliband has directly challenged David Cameron to agree to televised election debates in 2015, amid fears the prime minister is looking for to avoid participating.
Speaking at the close of the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Miliband said the party had a "big fight" on its hands and said Cameron needed to defend his record in government.
"We should also have that debate in the TV election debates. It's time for David Cameron to stop ducking and diving and agree to those TV debates, just like at the last general election, so the country can make its choice," he said.
The Conservatives are preparing to target Miliband in the general election, believing the Labour leader's low personal ratings will hurt the Opposition's chances of ousting the coalition. However Downing Street is yet to formally commit Cameron to taking part in TV debates. And the prime minister has repeatedly indicated he is wary of subjecting himself to a repeat of the 2010 experiment. Earlier this year Cameron told reporters he thought the debates had sucked "all the life out of the campaign" and suggested they be moved or changes to lessen their impact on the election.
Cameron is also likely to be concerned about the possibility of being forced to allow Nigel Farage to take part in the debates should Ukip win the European Elections in 2014.
During his keynote address to the Labour conference on Tuesday, Miliband indicated he was prepared to face the personal attacks from the Conservative campaign. "The next election isn’t just going to be about policy. It is going to be about how we lead and the character we show. I have got a message for the Tories today: if they want to have a debate about leadership and character, be my guest," he said.
"You see here is the thing about David Cameron. He may be strong at standing up to the weak, but he is always weak when it comes to standing up against the strong. That is the difference between me and David Cameron, so let’s have that debate about leadership and character, and I relish that debate."
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