Alex Salmond has written to leading broadcasters and TV regulator Ofcom, pleading for his pro-independence Alba party to be included in Scottish parliament election debates.
And fellow fringe party candidate George Galloway has now challenged Mr Salmond to a live TV debate – “any time, any place” – ahead of the Holyrood vote on 6 May.
Mr Galloway is also angry that his anti-independence All for Unity party has been snubbed by the broadcasters hosting debates between SNP, Labour, Tory, Lib Dem and Green leaders in Scotland.
Writing to Mr Salmond, the former Respect Party MP pointed out that Andrew Neil had offered to host a live debate on Spectator TV.
“This is the debate that the public have been longing for,” he said. “Box office, TV gold. The heavyweights of Scottish politics.
“I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it is an outrage and a disgrace that the BBC and STV continue to exclude us from the televised debates, despite polls showing that both of our parties are set to win seats in the next Scottish parliament.
Mr Galloway – who recently referred to Mr Salmond as “a big burly beast” – added: “Let’s put that right. I look forward to this public, open debate with you on the future of Scotland.”
The most recent Panelbase poll found that Alba has 6 per cent support – putting Mr Salmond’s party on course for six seats at Holyrood.
The surprise survey also found All for Unity on 4 per cent support – with polling guru Sir John Curtice suggesting it could be enough to give Mr Galloway’s outfit a seat in the Edinburgh parliament.
Speaking ahead of his party’s policy launch on Tuesday, Mr Salmond clashed with Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway – asking her to stop “interrupting” him during a live TV interview.
Challenged on Panelbase poll results showing two-thirds of Scots thought Mr Salmond was unfit to stand for election, he replied: “The national interest is above personalities Kate.”
Mr Salmond is expected to outline his preferred “route to independence” should his party help the SNP forge a “super majority” of pro-independence MSPs in the Scottish parliament.