Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nationalists attempting to block debate?

"GORDON Brown last night said he would "relish" head-to-head televised debates with his rivals ahead of the next general election.

The Prime Minister is the last of the Westminster party leaders to agree to what would be the first such event in UK electoral history."
That is conditional, The Tartanissimo believes he should also have the chance to… eh.."strut" alongside the two potential Prime-Ministers of the UK and Nick Clegg:
But Brown may not be able to test his wits against David Cameron of the Conservatives and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats if the SNP succeeds in blocking any leaders' debate that did not feature Alex Salmond.

The SNP said yesterday that it would challenge the broadcasters' rights to go ahead with the debates without including the Scottish First Minister
And as always, where the SNP boldly go, Plaid Cymru won’t be far behind:
Plaid Cymru has called on 3 major broadcasters rethink plans to exclude the party from pre-election TV debates.

The party’s Director of Elections Helen Mary Jones AM said that any such debates would have to be made relevant to audiences in Wales by including the leaders of all 4 parties. Ms Jones urged the broadcasters to consider the possible effects of their plans on the democratic process.
The DUP and TUV don’t make pronouncements on Sundays, but tomorrow we’ll, no doubt, see them making similar demands (for obvious reasons, more of a tricky ethical question for the Sinn Fein and SDLP).

So theoretically then we’ll have Brown, Cameron, Clegg, Salmond, Robbo, Ieuan Wyn Jones and who else round the table? Griffin? Jim Allister? Farage? The leader of the Cornish Nats? The “Concerned Residents of Trumpton”’s top man? In a one hour *national* debate?

The whole point of this would be to ape the presidential television debates seen in the US. Even Salmond’s ambition doesn’t stretch to becoming the Prime Minister of the entire United Kingdom, so why on earth should he then be entitled to debate alongside those whose parties will form the next government of that entire nation?
A nationwide debate should involve only those leaders whose parties compete nationwide- the logical approach would then be to have a second tier of debates on a regional level, something along the lines suggested here by Jim Murphy:
Labour yesterday suggested a compromise that would involve a debate among Westminster MPs with Scottish seats. Jim Murphy, the Scottish Secretary, said he had written to his shadow, Tory MP David Mundell, Angus Robertson of the SNP and Alistair Carmichael of the Liberal Democrats to ask whether they would be willing to take part. "I believe we too should take our debate to the people," Murphy said.

16 comments:

Timothy Belmont said...

I suspect that Salmond is merely attempting to be mischievous. He knows, full well, that the debate is about the General Election; but he wants to bring the Scottish Question into it.

His intervention ought to be resisted vehemently!

Tim

Alwyn ap Huw said...

I cant see how you come to the conclusion that it is nationalists who are blocking debate. By refusing to let the nationalists take part in the debate surely it is the Unionists who are trying to block debate.

O'Neill said...

No, they aren't. That last paragraph is important, doesn't a Scottish (or Welsh)-specific debate make more sense rather than having up to about 10 party leaders (because once the SNP and PC demand their place in nationwide then the UKIP, BNP, DUP etc will be sure to follow)trying to get a word in edgeways in a 60 minutes nationwide "debate"? If the SNP/Plaid organised on a UK basis, then they might have a point.

The question is do you think Salmond's ego will settle for a tete-a-tete with Murphy as suggested in the last paragraph?

In other words the offer for a more relevant debate is there, to date the nats haven't responded (they also I believe turned down this week a similar offer from Gray).

subrosa said...

I just love your satire O'Neill. :)

O'Neill said...

I'm delighted to hear that subrosa;)

I'm also a prophet too it would appear, look:
http://tinyurl.com/yb9hke8

Farage saying "me too!".

Although, to be fair, his party, unlike some one could mention, does also like the Conservatives, Labour and the LDS organise on a UK basis, so perhaps he does have an argument there...

Anonymous said...

I think ALL the leaders should be given the chance to put their case in rough proportion to their electoral strength. So in a 30 minute programme the SNP, PC would get 30 secs and the DUP, etc 15.
Maybe they then would realise what a load of nonsense they talk about 'mandates'

Anonymous said...

I think John Dixon, chair of Plaid Cymru, made a fair point on his blog:

“... one of the problems of a "head to head" debate between party leaders - which now seems pretty much inevitable - is that a UK general election isn't primarily (constitutionally, anyway) about electing a government; it is about electing a legislature. The government is then formed from within the legislature. That is a key difference between the UK system and, say, the US system where head-to-head debates are a natural part of the campaign.

Holding direct debates involving only those with at least an outside chance of becoming the next prime minister of the UK excludes the views of other parties who stand a realistic chance of becoming members of the legislature, which is what is actually being elected. It is another step towards a presidential style of government rather than a Parliamentary style of government.”

kensei said...

The SNP are the Scottish Governemnt and currently well ahead of the Tories there. A debate could influence the outcome of the election in Westminster. He's every right to raise hell when the other parties are getting free advertising.

O'Neill said...

I wouldn't call putting Brown under the spotlight like that free advertising for Labour- besides that the debate may well also influence the vote in English and (hopefully) N.irish constituencies, so back to the question I raised in the post: Does that then entitle every party standing in this election to participate in this national UK-wide debate or should it be only those who have a realistic chance of winning that Uk-wide battle?

And if Salmond is entitled to join in is there any argument against Robinson, Allister, Farage and Griffin- all their parties could influence the final result.

Labour has offered Salmond regional debates before- it has been dismissed arrogantly- we don't deal with Brown's Scottish bag-carriers in so many words.

O'Neill said...

Anonymous @October 5, 2009 11:22 AM

SNP apparachniks are now talking about a 3 hour programme, so salmond may well qualify for a wee bit more than you've allowed for, 6minutes or so?

Anonymous@October 5, 2009 12:31 PM

“... one of the problems of a "head to head" debate between party leaders - which now seems pretty much inevitable - is that a UK general election isn't primarily (constitutionally, anyway) about electing a government; it is about electing a legislature. The government is then formed from within the legislature. That is a key difference between the UK system and, say, the US system where head-to-head debates are a natural part of the campaign."

That is a fair point and it would have been a better one for the SNP and PC to make rather than them attempting a Berlusconi-esque censorship of the media.

"It is another step towards a presidential style of government rather than a Parliamentary style of government."

Again a fair point, although I susepct that is a development certain nationalist leaders and parties will welcome more than others.

tony said...

Oneil

>>The whole point of this would be to ape the presidential television debates seen in the US.<<

In the UK we vote for parties, as a result by convention we get a PM from the largest party. It would be unfair not to have the SNP as a party represented regardless if anyone from that party can be PM. If this was a basis then we could rule out the Lib-Dem's.

>>A nationwide debate should involve only those leaders whose parties compete nationwide<<

But the SNP do! Oh and Murphy's silly exercise achieves what? Apart from further embarrass the Grey Gray man or try desperately to create a sideshow where guys like you can cling to.

Tim

>>His(Salmond representing the SNP) intervention ought to be resisted vehemently!<<

I suppose they might if they had a prima facie case for doing so, I can't see one.

>>I just love your satire O'Neill. :)<<

If only it were but methinks the bee in his bonnet is affecting his common sense.

>>Labour has offered Salmond regional debates before- it has been dismissed arrogantly..<<

These regional debates indeed. So the FM of Scotland, of a nation should debate with a minion like Murphy, why? A much better case could be made for the Grey man but his offer(sic) as you well know was made to be refused due to Salmon's commitments. Also I am in stitches at your sudden intemperate attacks Oneil and the patronising tone is really giving it away you know.

Braveheart said...

As I understand it, Alex Salmond will not be a Westminster candidate....

The SNP has no policies for Holyrood, let alone Westminster....

Still, there's a nationalist constituency that needs its portion of grievance, and they can't complain about there being no Local income Tax or Scottish Futures Trust or that Student Debt has not been abolished... so this is a nice little diversionary morsel for them...

Salmond will use this issue, as he uses every other issue, to create heat but no light...

It's his special skill, it's what he does.

O'Neill said...

"In the UK we vote for parties, as a result by convention we get a PM from the largest party."

That was the point by the PC guy and I said it was a fair one. And the pointg about the LDS also is a strong argument. And despite playing round with the definition of the nation I think you know exactly what I mean!

But I'm interested in how you'd go about the logistics for this one, if Salmond is to be invited, who else then- PC, UKIP, the NI parties, the BNP, the Greens, all potentially could make as strong an argument to be present.

What issues to be discussed, time to be individually devoted to NI, Scotland and wales and England etc etc.

A head to head nationwide broadcast debate between Cameron and Brown, one of whom will be the future PM of the UK. Sub-debates (which will be more relevant to the particuliar audiences).

tony said...

Good point regarding the minor parties. it could get messy. There may be no way around it you know.

Jeanne Tomlin said...

Let me remind you that in Scotland (part of the UK I THOUGHT) the SNP is NOT a "minor party". The same is true of the Plaid Cymru in Wales. Home nations and a part of the United Kingdom it USED to be averred.

But you English really can not resist your whinging and whining that they actually expect a voice and denigrating the home NATIONS by comparing them to “Concerned Residents of Trumpton".

As for "electing a government" since when is ANYONE in the UK going to vote for a "government". The last I heard everyone will vote for their own MP.

This little imitation Presidential debate excludes all but three parties. There are NUMBER of other parties which have Members of Parliament.

You haven't yet come up with any reason why the parties that make up your supposed "mother of parliaments" are to be silenced.

Afraid people will hear opinions you don't like? Heaven forfend that should happen.

O'Neill said...

But you English really...

Jean,

Even a cursory glance at my posts would reveal I am not English. Your points I have addressed on my most recent post on the subject 2/3/2010