Sunday, October 04, 2009

Should UKIP, the SNP (Ahem, and BNP) Be Included in the Debate?

Shane Greer toasted (I was going to write roasted, but thought better of it) UKIP Deputy Leader David Campbell-Bannerman on 5 Live last night over his suggestion that the leader of UKIP should be included in a leaders' debate. Shane pointed out that UKIP does not stand in every constituency and surely the debate should be restricted to those parties who have elected representatives throughout the UK.

Today Nigel Farage has entered the fray and says he ought to be given a place. And there was me thinking he had resigned as party leader.

Alex Salmond thinks he should be in the arena too. How strange. I thought the SNP wanted nothing to do with the Westminster Parliament.

Both he and Farage are threatening legal action if they are not included.

Any lawyers out there care to pass judgement?

Of course if UKIP are given a place, there can be no reasonable argument to deny one to the BNP or Greens. I can see this ending in tears.


Anonymous said...

I look forward to an American-style resolution where the main parties and broadcast networks use legal action to prevent minor party leaders from turning up to the debates.

Anonymous said...

These selfish bastards with their little parties are going to end up preventing these debates from happening.

Salmond in particular can go to hell, the only people who care about the laughable "Scotish Politics" are the SNP and its electorate.

If any of them read this - stop being so bloody pathetic. Why not have a debate amongst yourselves and let the grown ups watch the proper debates?

Andrew said...

Or even Plaid Cymru...

Richard said...

Indeed, although I can imagine a scenario in which the debate(s) between the UK leaders is only screened in England, with separate debates taking place featuring the Scottish and Welsh leaders for those countries. Not sure how UKIP fit in, although I suspect they would lose a legal challenge on the basis that they don't have a record of electoral success in Westminster elections.

Anonymous said...

How strange. I thought the SNP wanted nothing to do with the Westminster Parliament.

What a grotesque misrepresentation. The SNP, as you are well aware, stands on a platform of Scottish independence. Until such times as the SNP has a mandate from the Scottish electorate, its major function to represent Scotland as a whole and its specfic constituencies in all relevant legislatures, which includes not only the Scottish parliament but the parliament of the United Kingdom in Westminster.

You do yourself and your cause no favours by lapsing into such pettiness puerility, Mr. Dale. You are quite clearly attempting to equate the wholly democratic and constitutional SNP with violent extremist parties like Sinn Fein that have always boycotted Westminster.

Shame on you. (Not, of course, that you'll allow this comment to pass your moderation/censorship process.)

Norfolk Blogger said...

Regarding Scotland, make sure the terrestrial broadacasters only broadacast to England. Then let it be known that this is thanks to the SNP. This will make them look rather silly.

There could always be a Scottish debate, as I think has happened in the past.

Anonymous said...

National debates for national parties, I don't see the SNP putting up a candidate down here in Sussex so why should they get a space?

Let them throw their toys out their prams.

Stephen Glenn said...

FYI Of course Iain Alex Salmond is wanting a place himself and is not going to be standing for Westminster. Therefore he wouldn't even be in the House after the election anyway.

Anonymous said...

>You do yourself and your cause no favours by lapsing into such pettiness puerility, Mr. Dale. You are quite clearly attempting to equate the wholly democratic and constitutional SNP with violent extremist parties like Sinn Fein that have always boycotted Westminster.

Pettiness? Perhaps he could join the SNP seeing as that seems to be the most crucial personality trait of those in the party and those who support it.

Most people think of SNP as jingoistic, nationalist scum as they wish to destroy the union.

I don't need to hear their pointless drivel just to keep them happy. I want to know what politicians who will actually have an impact on our lives have to say.

Philip Baxter said...

I'd like to see Cameron debating with Salmond. And I'd like to see him look him in the eye and say the words we all want to hear: "Enjoy this while you can, because my Government will scrap the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly on day one."

Shaun said...

Dunno. How far down the percentage scale do you go? Do you have a Socialist Worker there, or a Legalise Cannabis guy or are you cutting off at a certain level of support.

While there's something to be said for it, I'd probably restrict it to parties represented in either Westminster or as the UKs contingent to the EU. Otherwise you'll have Plaid Cymru and the English Defence League plus strange ex-policemen mayors and 1 member party guys in monkey suits all providing cover for those likely to form a government to not answer questions.

Stephen Glenn said...

My friend Norfolk Bloggers ignores the fact that the majority of us in Scotland want to see the debates involving the key potential Government formers. Denying us the right to see the potential leaders of the UK debate is not fair.

Also I'd say that the Scottish debate, if there is one, should only be of the people who are leaders of their party in Westminster. Not the various MSPs who lead their parties in Holyrood. This is about the central Government not the devolved Parliament we need people who understand what we are voting for, and the issues that they can decide on.

Pam Nash said...

If you include UKIP the floodgates open - Monster Raving Loony Party? They've been around longer than any other party outside the main three.....

The U.S. initiated the debate format - there has only been one occasion, 1992, when more than 2 candidates have been included; three debates among President George H. W. Bush, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and independent candidate Ross Perot.

Norton Folgate said...

Don't forget the Tantric flyers.

Elliot Kane said...

They may have to leave out the Lib-Dems in the end because of this, depending on how they end up defining 'major party'.

It's clearly impossible to have a national debate that includes every single party, however large or small. The idea is simply unworkable. But if you start including small fringe parties, you'd pretty much have to.

While it might be rather novel to see the Monster Raving Loony Party leader blowing a party whistle at Nick Griffin every time he spoke, I'm not sure the first national debate between party leaders should be quite so... informal, shall we say :D

The SNP are probably using the event to try to stir up anti-British feeling, as is their wont ("They're leaving Scotland out AGAIN!") but at least they have some claim to being a popular party, if only a regional one. They can't really lose, whether they're included in the debate or not. And they shouldn't be, as they are a SCOTTISH party, not a BRITISH party.

UKIP... No seats in parliament whatsoever, IIRC. None in Scottish or Welsh regional assemblies, either. Little to no prospect of winning any. They simply have no case. This is likely just a publicity exercise, for them. Would be different if the debate were for the Euro elections, of course, but it's not.

JMB said...

Can't they just hold the debate before the election is declared so it is just another political debating programme? Don't restrictions only apply once the election is declared?

Anonymous said...

As someone from Scotland I would like to say that the SNP and the minor parties can go and do one. I have no interest in watching small narrow minded politicians north of the border.

I want to hear from the two main parties who have a chance of holding actual power and throw in the lib dems to make up the numbers.

Neil J Ward said...

Is it not possible to have a series of debates one which would include the leaders or the welsh and scottish parties.

Therefore there is no need for the nationalists to throw their toys out of the pram which they look to be doing.

Allan said...

To the various comentators slagging off Salmonds position regarding "The Debate", can you remind me exactly what Comedy Dave's poll ratings are in Scotland?

Andrew said...

Dear Anonymous,

If you are going to come out with nonsensical streams of consciousness like this...

You do yourself and your cause no favours by lapsing into such pettiness puerility, Mr. Dale. You are quite clearly attempting to equate the wholly democratic and constitutional SNP with violent extremist parties like Sinn Fein that have always boycotted Westminster.

Shame on you. (Not, of course, that you'll allow this comment to pass your moderation/censorship process.)

... then please have the courtesy of revealing your name. Mind you, hiding behind the title 'anonymous' is quite akin to the Nats hiding behind their subsidy from the proper Parliament every year... Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

salmonds plan B is to alienate the english,as only 21% of scotts want independence.

this is pathetic small minded scottish nonsense.

if they spent more time on the scottish economy and not spending every penny on pet projects,scotland would not be in the economic mess we scotts are in.

Sean said...

better to have one on ones, dave v brownstuff, dave v Clog, clog v brownstuff ect ect.

As long as everyone gets equal time on tv I see no probs.

Toby Atkin-Wright said...

How many parties have elected representatives throughout the UK?

How many of the main parties field candidates in Northern Ireland?

Hamish said...

Wow, it's striking how the argument has homed in on the Scots in the comments on this post.
I thought the involvement of UKIP and ahem would have been more contentious.

For the rabid anti-Scots:
(a) every nation has the right to determine its own affairs
(b) Scotland is a nation.
For those deficient in logic:
(c) Scotland has the right to determine its own affairs.

You English keep threatening to cut the apron strings. We Scots would be delighted if you did.
Both of us could be truer to our own identity as separate nations.

pothat's some vitriol thrown at the Scots in the comments.

Outed said...

The inconvenient truth is that only one pairing in the debates matters at all. The viewing public will only tune in for Brown vs Cameron. Clegg can turn up if he likes but he is an irrelevance to the main bout. Brown vs Cameron has all the makings of total car crash TV. A man without a likable bone in his body, Brown will struggle to do anything better than swirling buttock clenchingly closely to the plug hole of total humiliation. To walk away without becoming a laughable shorthand for unconvinving whilst doing himself and his cause lasting damage is the best that Brown can hope for.

neil craig said...

All these parties certainly should get a chance to debate their position though less airtime. Ukip are in an unusual position in that though they are not expected to be a major party in the UK election they were the 2nd party in the last election held. Ifv there are going to be a number of debates they should participate in about half as many as the LibDems do & the Greens & BNP in about 1/3rd as many as that. The SNP are in a particular position since in UK terms they are about the size of the BNP but in Scottish terms they are the leading party. In theory that means if the main 3 get a programme he should get an extra party political about 1/3rd as long.

I think Conservatives should not be unhappy about the rise of UKIP since, if they establish a parliamentary presence they will be more market orientated than the Conservatives & will give some balancing pressure to the other opposition parties. Another reason for electoral reform.

JMB said...

I suppose it has be decided if it is a debate between contenders to be the next Prime Minister of the UK or a debate between the parties. If the first then not even the Liberal leader in his wildest dreams can truly believe there is any chance of him being PM.

"To the various comentators slagging off Salmonds position regarding "The Debate", can you remind me exactly what Comedy Dave's poll ratings are in Scotland?"

Will Comedy Salmonella being taking part in a debate with ALL the other minor Scottish party leaders in Scotland on Scottish TV?

Once you get more than two people then it just becomes a pointless exercise as you go around each person for them to have their allocated time on each question.

As I suggested previously, make sure it is done before the election is declared then it is just yet another TV political programmes so election rules do not apply.

john in cheshire said...

The only party, ahem, who purport to represent the indigenous English peoples are the BNP. So don't be so sniffy about them.

God help us if the European socialists are allowed to implement their agenda for this country. The Europeans have hated us for centuries. They even show their hatred by referring to the 'Anglo-Saxons'. So anyone who passively thinks that someone else will look after them, will be severely disillusioned in the near future. If we, the English, wish to preserve our civilised way of life; fought for be countless generations of our young boys and men; the we will have to rise up against the current clique of oppressors - the so-called political elite. and crush them before they complete their current plan, which is to beat us into submission and servitude.

Kath said...

Gerry Adams and Peer Robo anyone?

I thought it would be limited to the three main parties.

DespairingLiberal said...

You are right about the ludicrous Salmond and Farage - in fact, mentioning them only encourages them.

Amazing to think that Salmond is really the best that Scotland can offer. If I was a Scot, I would be paying people to stand against him in every election. The man is and always was a roaring hypocrite and bigmouth.

However, I can see the BBC running this like those early stages in the US Primaries when there is a large panel of would-be presidents - might be a good thing as it would allow the Greens leader who is quite good to come to the attention of the public. It would be bizarre to say the least though to have Nick Griffin given equal airtime to Cameron, Brown and Clegg.

Jimmy said...

The approach last time out in Ireland may be a useful model: one debate between the two putative heads of government and a separate debate for everyone else.

Simon Dyda said...

Missing the point by a mile, Iain. The quiestion is should other parties IN GOVERNMENT take part, ie Plaid Cymru and the SNP.

Obviously political debate in Scotland and Wales (and of course Norn Ireland) differs from the one in England. A debate centred around the three English mainstream parties would be irrelevant outside of England.

BenS said...

In the interests of neutrality, yes, they should all be given a place, otherwise it just reinforces the idea that the 3 main parties - really just duplicates of one another - ought to have a stranglehold on Parliament.

Really, though, it's kind of up to the broadcaster. I reserve the right to call out their bias when they announce the participants though.

Witterings From Witney said...


Bit of a 'snide' comment about Farage?

You know as well as I that someone remains leader until a new incumbent is elected.

norman said...

UKIP is a single issue party and Farage is yelping like my neighbour's puppy. I can see BNP getting 2-3 MPs but not the UKIP. As for "two jobs" Salmond,he is trying to distract attention as he is not likely to get referendum bill passed through for Scotland independence next year in the Holyrood chamber as the other 3 union parties are opposed to it. The debate should be between the potential leaders and Clegg is unlikely to become the PM even in the status of a hung parliament and joining govt and is unlikely to influence Brown like " Boy David " was( ignored by Callaghan) in the Lib-Lab pact in 1970s. It is really between Gordo and Cameron.

Animal Magic said...

Ian Parker-Joseph leader of LPUK deserves to get a say as well! Lets get some real EU sceptic views put across.

Anonymous said...

I'm amused by the way that people who are against nationalism are suddenly "anti scots" when the accuser knows nothing of the accused!

Scotland is a constituent part of the UK and should be governed from Westminster like the rest of the country.

The Edinburgh parliament is the most laughable and ludicrous policy implemented by Labour in its time in office.

Support it if you wish but don't expect us all to offer you validity.

Michael Shilliday said...

No party has elected representatives across the UK. There is an electoral pact with such, but no party. So Shane would produce no debate at all.

Charles said...


Your Scottish Parliament voted those rights away in the Act of Settlement (or was it the Act of Union - afraid that I muddle up my Irish and Scottish history sometimes).

Until a majority of the Scottish people votes to take those rights back, then that is the current status quo.

So, for those deficient in logic, you do NOT have the right to determine your own affairs at the moment.

Tom said...

Farage should not be permitted, because, as you point out, he has resigned from being Party leader.

Anonymous said...

If debates take place before a General Election takes place then Farage and Salmond have no case.

However, If a General Election is called then all parties with a equal number of candidates should be called.

Those parties who are not contesting all the seats can be ignored.

Jabba the Cat said...

@ DespairingLiberal said...

"You are right about the ludicrous Salmond and Farage - in fact, mentioning them only encourages them."

I am puzzled here, the LibDims are very much a minority party led by a political pygmy so why should they be allowed equal debate time with the Tories and ZaNuLab?

Anonymous said...

Iain, old son, u have it wrong about the SNP

the SNP want the westminster parliament to have nothing to do with scotland

-- until then the best scottish voice at westminster is the SNP

Anonymous said...

Pettiness? Perhaps he could join the SNP seeing as that seems to be the most crucial personality trait of those in the party and those who support it.

What a marvellous deconstruction of Nationalist policy. Oh. Wait. No, it's actually petulant name-calling.

Most people think of SNP as jingoistic, nationalist scum as they wish to destroy the union.

(a) Who is "most people"? The people on this blog and Guido's who spend their days posting one racist anti-Scottish diatribe after another?

(b) Could you give some examples of this jingoism? I'm perplexed as to how opposition to foreign military operations and a commitment to greater integration into the EU can be characterised as "jingoism" - unlike the Unionist parties who regularly wrap themselves in the flag and spit xenophobic abuse at Johnny Foreigner (or at any Britons who come from any part of the UK that isn't England, come to that).

Anonymous said...

scotland would not be in the economic mess we scotts are in.

If you knew how to spell the word "Scot", I might take your efforts at posing as one more seriously.

Alan Douglas said...

... or more likely ending exactly as Brown intends it : bogged down in arguments about process, and no debates at all.

Alan Douglas

jafo said...

The Debate can only be between leaders of the parties who are likely to form the next Government at Westminster. That means David Cameron and Gordon Brown, and as another poster so neatly put it, Nick Clegg can come if he likes.

No other party is likely to form the next Government of the United Kingdom and that is what we are discussing.

Alex Salmond is not going to be the next Prime Minister of the UK. In fact, I thought he was only interested in Scotland, so why would he be interested in the debate anyway? Isn't he already Scotland's First Minister? What would he have to contribute?

Ian McCord said...

The answer must be for Conservative and Labour to pass a quick one line amendment to the Representation of the People Act to allow for two party head to head of the main two candidates most likely to form a government.

This would allow for unequal air time only in relation to this debate.

It could cover Scotland, Wales, NI and all - I'm sure David Cameron will play along will Gordon Brown?

John K said...

I don't think these debates are going to happen - Brown knows he'd be trounced and will find a way to evade them while blaming Cameron.

On Salmond, I suspect this is mainly posturing for a domestic audience (surprise, surprise). But I'd be very happy for the SNP to be involved in a debate if it helps bring forward a referrendum on whether the Scots really want to leave the UK, which needs to be decided one way other the other asap.

Then we will either get rid of Brown, Darling, Alexander, and the rest of the New Labour gang at Westminster, or re-integrate Scotland into the UK with fair spending, taxation etc.

Bring it on!

Andy JS said...

Brown must be laughing at the prospect of the debate collapsing.

Tcheuchter said...

@ Tom. Farage is still party leader until someone is elected in his place.

Regarding televised debates, Farage is by far the best speaker and so it is most unlikely that Cameron, Clegg or Brown would want to be seen debating with him in real time, especially as his arguments would be stronger in base of fact.

Home rule for Lochaber. :)

Alex said...

"Allan said...
To the various comentators slagging off Salmonds position regarding "The Debate", can you remind me exactly what Comedy Dave's poll ratings are in Scotland?"

About as good as the Labour vote round here but considerably better than the SNP poll ratings in England.

Anonymous said...

How does one become a big party in a country where the big parties try to ban small parties?

Anonymous said...

I heard Farage say specifically he would not be considering legal action.

trevorsden said...

UK Leader? Why should Scotland be denied any debate between Clegg Cameron and Brown. Scotland is in the UK.

At least one anonymous 4.23, is talking sense.
There is no majority in Scotland for independence. Salmonds only hope is to annoy the English.

The debates are nothing special. The leaders face each other all the time at PMQs, so the novelty is nothing like in the USA, and the term 'debate' is probably a misnomer anyway.

Barking Spider said...

No, not at the same time as the three main parties otherwise the whole thing will turn into an utterly pointless free-for-all!

DougtheDug said...

Perhaps a look at the regulations would help a few here, including Iain.

Under the Communications Act 2003, section 320 TV Broadcasters must be impartial especially in elections.

This is applied in section 6 of the OFCOM regulations on election broadcasting which is also where the SNP is classified as a "Major Party" in Scotland.

Meaning of "major party":
At present in the UK major parties are the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats. In addition, major parties in Scotland and Wales respectively are the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. The major parties in Northern Ireland are the Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, Social Democratic and Labour Party, and the Ulster Unionist Party.

Now though ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 come under OFCOM the BBC do not but in their guidelines it says,
We should make, and be able to defend, our editorial decisions on the basis that they are reasonable and carefully and impartially reached. To achieve this we must ensure that:
they are aware of the different political structures in the four nations of the United Kingdom and that they are reflected in the election coverage of each nation. Programmes shown across the UK should also take this into account.

I've no idea what regulations Sky come under but as far as ITV and the BBC go if they attempt to censor the SNP who are the party of Government in Scotland by denying them participation in any party leader debates in Scotland then they will fall foul not only of their respective guidelines but the law.

This is not a presidential election with only two candidates. A General Election is a multi-party election and other parties cannot be excluded or treated with bias because they will not form the next government.

A Lib/Lab/Con only debate gives an unfair media advantage and is how Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems are trying to suppress democracy in Scotland. They want a high profile debate with their party leaders to go out at prime time in Scotland and they don't want the SNP to get a look in.

The whole idea of a UK wide "leaders" debate in addition to Party Election Broadcasts is based on metropolitan parochialism. The idea that there are parties outside London who matter and who also have to be treated impartially with a right to airtime on the media is only now surfacing in the minds of the Tarquins and Jocastas who thought this debate up.

Libertarian said...

The consensus on here at least is most of you only want to hear from the 2/3 main parties.

If you keep on doing what you've always done you'll keep on getting what you always got.

If you want something different at least try listening to some alternatives.

If the debate takes place after an election is called no one has any seats !

Anonymous said...

How about this for a money spinner.

We have minor debates between the smaller parties with a telephone poll. The winners go through to the next round and the overall winner joins the seeded 3 in the finals .

much love
Simon Cowell the real X factor

DespairingLiberal said...

Jabba, the number of votes cast in the 2005 General Election for each of the 3 main parties (source Wikipedia) was as follows:

Labour Party 9,562,122 Conservative Party 8,772,598 Liberal Democrats 5,981,874

What exactly was the huge difference between the Tories and LibDems in votes cast that makes you call the LibDems "very much a minority party" please?

On a PR system, the result in parliament would have approximately been....

Labour 248 seats
Tories 227 seats
LibDems 155 seats

I think the problem may be the voting system, not the votes.

Sandy Jamieson said...

Of course Gordon must have known that there could be a legal challenge- which the SNP might win in the Scottish Courts.

However,I imagine Gordon knew this beforehand (the problem is not new) so now he can say I'm really sorry there can be no debate, I really wanted one but the law must be obeyed.

So Gordon cannet be accused of being frit of a debate

nick said...

As with the Libyan prisoner release, the SNP show themselves up as glorified county councillors playing at national politics.
It suits Labour to dilute the debate by involving smaller parties, including the LibDems, as they would reduce the time that Brown and Cameron are on screen and most could be relied on instinctively to attack Cameron (and more convincingly than Brown can).

tapestry said...

UKIP is the nation's best defence against PR imaginable.

If the EU imposes PR, UKIP go to 20% overnight.

With the Conservatives on 30% plus, it's curtains for Lab/Lib Dem.

Meanwhile under FPTP, the BBC will promote UKIP at every opportunity. We will be sick of Farage's ugly mug by May 2010.

The SNP, however, will not be seen nor heard. Nor The Greens. They take from Labour, you see.

They won't allow lawyers to decide this. Farage and Salmon might as well whistle where the sun don't shine.

Doug said...

The interesting thing would be that if the SNP are allowed into the debate who would debate for them? Salmond is giving up his Westminster seat so surely the minimum requirement for entering a UK general election debate is to be standing for a Westminster constituency which he isn't.

Quietzapple said...

Looks Like Brown vs Chameleon; Darling vs Osborne etc to me.

Monthly option.


Norfolk Blogger said...

Tapestry, you are so clearly wrong. Just look at what happened in Norwich North and the BBC. They talked up the Greens at every opportunity. The Greens got to take part in the live debate whilst UKIP was excluded. The whole agenda was very much the opposite of what you claimed, which makes your arguments seem hoolow and more like a rant than a reasoned position.

Thomas said...

Clearly the SNP should be included, given that it's the largest party in Scotland. A debate that doesn't include it should not be shown in Scotland, as it would unfairly skew results.
But apart from this, there's also the fact that so many policy areas are devolved to Scotland. Any debate on topics like education, the NHS and policing will be irrelevant to Scottish viewers.
So perhaps it's best to have two debates, one including Salmond to discuss reserved areas (e.g., EU and the armed forces), and another one restricted to England dealing with reserved policy areas?
(I've blogged about this here.)

Tom said...

I think maybe they should be included in one debate. However I think a criteria for at least one of the debates is that those involved are each representative of a party that has candidates standing in every (or nearly every) constituency in the UK. SNP doesn't, Plaid doesn't, I don't think UKIP does either, hence they could not possibly aspire to be Prime Minister. And I think there should be a 'one on one' debate based on the top two at the previous election.

The whole point of these things is to inform - if every question has to be answered by three different people it'll just end up turning into Blind Date...

Ed said...

The bigger question is whether the Liberal Democrats will get unearned equal billing with Brown and Cameron.

There should be two debates: one three-way and one two-way. This gives a fair approximation of the electoral split in general elections over the years, and current opinion polls (40:40:20).

Marian said...

The Tory Party has but one MP in Scotland at present and come the UK general election may not have any MP's whatsoever in Scotland.

Therefore David Cameron has no mandate from the people of Scotland to represent them as PM of the Westminster parliament.

For some considerable time now opinion polls have shown the SNP to be well ahead of Labour in Scotland and so the SNP have every right to be included in any TV debate of the leaders of parties who have a legitimate mandate from Scotland.

Anonymous said...

Why not just have all the leaders of parties big and small,Stand up and give their vision for Britain,followed by questions from the other party leaders---hells teeth if they want to be a leader of this nation, then they should be able to argue their own beliefs.The following night---all should be available to answer questions from the public.
We the sheeple can then at least see what fights they are prepared to take and what they wont.

Jimmy said...

"On a PR system, the result in parliament would have approximately been..."

Assuming of course that the votimg system does not change a single vote, which is of course where arguments like this fall to the ground.

Anonymous said...

Time to face up to the fact we are no longer a United Kingdom.

martin sewell said...

I was the lawyer who started the litigation to get the Greens an election Broadcast back in 1984. My recollection was that we secured leave to bring the proceedings but had brought the proceedings rather late and decided to take the offer of an Election Call with Robin Day in lieu which launched Jonathan Porritt as a Green voice in the media. It was probably a good outcome.

Any legal challenge needs to be prepared now and the timing well judged.

Anonymous said...

JMB is right even if the Lib Dems get more votes than the Tories and Labour, but under 40%, they will have the largest vote and yet the smallest number of MPs. East Germany had several political parties, unsurprisingly only the communist SED ever won power. Here in the UK we have lots of political parties but only two can realistically win, even with a minority of votes. Including Nick Clegg in the leaders’ debate might give people the impression we live in a democracy.

Carl Gardner, Head of Legal said...

I think legal action's completely unrealistic.

Under the OFCOM broadcasting code, Sky is obliged during its election coverage to give due weight to the coverage of "major parties", which means the big three at UK level. See section 6 of the Code. It merely has to consider giving appropriate coverage to other parties. I think it's clear that a UK debate of the big three is within the Code - and to try to read it as requiring UKIP or the SNP to be involved is I think an obvious misreading.

Anyway, what legal action would you take? You could try an injunction against Sky for breach of statutory duty under the Communications Act 2003 I suppose - but the chances of getting an injunction I'd rate as low to non-existent. You could judicially review OFCOM for failing to intervene, but since OFCOM's policy is only to act post-transmission (see para. 5.7 of the enforcement report), you'd in effect have to challenge their whole policy and regulatory approach as unlawful. A tough case to make indeed. Not forgetting that the debate looks well within the Code anyway.

Legal challenge? Forget it.

I suppose if I were advising Sky I'd suggest, for absolute security, holding Scottish, Welsh and NI debates involving the major parties there, so it was undeniable they'd given them appropriate coverage similar in form to the debate the UK major parties had had. I'd advise pretty confidently that the UK debate couldn't be stopped by anyone, though, even if the Scottish etc. debates didn't happen.

Tory Outcast said...

UKIP are standing in enough seats to theoretically gain a majority. Sure it is unlikely but so is a Lib Dem victory. Either UKIP are there or Lib Dems aren't.

Anonymous said...

This confusion as to what our country is (and around the status of a party leader) is exactly why a leaders debate has never happened, should never happen and hopefully never will happen. Our country is a patchwork of historical double speak and ambiguity. You start trying to answer the questions we have buried for centuries and you are asking for trouble.

We are a parliamentary democracy. 650 debates should happen locally. They could all be youtubed.

British_&_Proud_of_it said...

Should the SNP/BNP/UKIP be included?

No. Those parties with a UK wide presence should be involved in a UK wide debate. The selection process could be based on MPs, MEPS & Counsellors. (Mind you, Northern Ireland might confuses the issue so that no-one can appear.)

With regard to Scotland, it is a shame that that the minority rabidly anti English in Scotland attracts comment from the minority rabidly anti Scottish in England and vice versa. Both just poison any rational debate.

Anonymous said...

3 debates: 1 with just the 3 main party leaders, screened in England; 1 with the SNP too for Scotland; 1 with Plaid Cymru too for Wales.

Simple enough, and reflects how our country is constituted.

PoliticalHack said...

Carl is bang on the money. There is no legal duty to give the other parties airtime, even if they run candidates across the country.

The national debate(s) should be between the three major party leaders at the time and there should be 4-way regionalised debates for the devolved nations, to include the Nat parties.

This is, after all, a national election and neither Plaid nor the SNP will be forming a Westminster government, nor are they major parties in terms of the national outcome.

British_and_Proud_of_it said...

Marian (October 04, 2009 10:57 PM)

So David Cameron has no mandate from Scotland? The Tories did manage around 15/16% of the votes at council and MSP level. Are they to be disenfranchised?

voiceofourown said...

British and Proud of it said:
With regard to Scotland, it is a shame that that the minority rabidly anti English in Scotland attracts comment from the minority rabidly anti Scottish in England and vice versa.

Oh really. Can you point out the rabidly anti English comments on this thread?

DougtheDug said...

Carl Gardner, Head of Legal:

Anyway, what legal action would you take? You could try an injunction against Sky for breach of statutory duty under the Communications Act 2003 I suppose - but the chances of getting an injunction I'd rate as low to non-existent.

There already is a precedent. In 1995 an interview with John Major to be broadcast by the BBC just before the Scottish Local Elections was banned from being aired in Scotland and the BBC had to stop its transmission on Scottish transmitters.

Thanks to Montague Burton for the link.

Pete Wass said...

Farage and Griffin are no less relevant than Clegg. Either take the logical course and restrict it to the ones who might be prime minister, or open it up to all of the pygmies. Giving Clegg preferential treatment because he leads the largest of the pointless parties is ridiculous to any but the libdems.

Anonymous said...

If there's to be a debate broadcast in Scotland, and there are only three seats available, then frankly it should be Cameron who steps aside - the Conservatives are pretty much a fringe party in Scotland and have one MP to show for it - fewer than any other major UK party.

There's maybe an argument to say that the debate can only include people standing for Westminster (which would preclude Salmond but include the next most senior SNP candidate) but Salmond is absolutely correct that a debate screened in Scotland which excluded the governing party would be extraordinary.

English First said...

Now then lets just think about this.

We know, and the Public Records Office holds the proof, that The Tories,led by Heath, committed Reason in 1972. He was joined of course, by labour and the Liberals. The FCO, the BBC and much of the media also joined in this betrayal.

That is a fact. So, why is it that these traitors are being allowed to debate the future of my country, when the BNP probably will not be?

The Greens? Come on, rabidly Marxist influence.

Ian, now you are a Tory candidate, I challenge you to defend what the Tories did to this country in 1972. I can, should you wish, send you all the evidence to support this claim. This was all obtained under the 25 year rule from The Public Records Office and there is no doubt that a very severe crime has been committed but justice has not been achieved.

I hope, before people vote this time, that they are aware of the real truth surrounding these awful main stream parties.

Anyway Ian, a challenge, or like Cameroon will you duck the issues?

DominicJ said...

I cant see why if Nick Clegg is allowed to take part, UKIP shouldnt be.

"You English keep threatening to cut the apron strings. We Scots would be delighted if you did.
Both of us could be truer to our own identity as separate nations."

Indeed, England and scotland can go from being bad housemates to amicable neighbours, just like England and the EU could

Claíomh na Saoirse said...

Surely any debate broadcast in Scotland should include a representative from Scotland's largest political party?

It's a no-brainer for me.

And as for those who say this debate should only be for those who have a chance of being Prime Minister after the election: why on earth would Brown be invited?

In terms of Scotland, the SNP holds more seats in the Westminster Parliament than the Conservatives.

And in terms of the United Kingdom, it is not exactly a leap into a fantasy world to suggest that the SNP-Plaid bloc could be kingmaker in the event of a hung Parliament.

Anonymous said...

This is a party "leaders debate" -so Salmond who is a leader of a British political party should be included.

So also should the party leaders of

the BNP
the Greens
The Libdems
The English Democrats

who are all going to get a not insignificant section of the total vote- includes the Eng Dems who are emerging as part of the scenery.


some parties don't cover the whole UK?

doesn't fit your preconceived notion of a Bush/Obama teledebate?

---then don't call it a party leaders debate.

Instead you could be honest and call it a debate between the leaders of the two political gangs which control the system at present and have fixed the rules of politics for the last 90 years or so to keep it that way.

The BBC will be no problem . They are part of the fix.

George Laird said...

Dear Mr. Dale

“Should UKIP, the SNP (Ahem, and BNP) Be Included in the Debate?”

Why are you trying to lump the Scottish National Party in with the cranks?

The SNP are the Government of Scotland.

There is only, only one Tory MP in Scotland.

Alex Salmond is the leader of the Scottish Government; Cameron is just an opposition MP, who has more cred?

Poor effort on your part!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Albion1983 said...

If the debate is a party leaders debate then yes the SNP, Plaid Cymru, UKIP, Green Party, Respect, BNP and any other nationally organised party leaders should be involved.

If it's just for party leaders who have a realistic chance of becoming the next Prime Minister then only the leaders of Labour and the Conservatives should be invited.

Thatsnews said...

The whole debate thing should be operated like this:

In each region a party chairman/woman would debate on regional/local TV.

Nationally the leader ans deputy leader of parties would debate with each other on separate days.

Perhaps to include smaller parties there could be a Question Time Election Special, which would be made up by leaders from smaller parties.

In Wales, NI and Scotland the same system would apply, locally. Though in Wales the requirement for the debate to be undertaken in Welsh might be a useful idea.

Mr A said...

Even though I support UKIP it seems clear that any kind of American-style leadership debate should be Cameron and Brown or Cameron, Brown and Clegg. However, as a TV viewer I would certainly love to see a few Question Time specials - maybe one each in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with the leaders of the Top 5 or 6 ranking parties in each country taking part. That way, everyone gets a go and it would be interesting TV. I certainly don't turn off Question Time when it's on normally because it's in Cardiff rather than Birmingham....