Tuesday, April 27, 2010

UKIP Goes to Court Over TV Debate

I've just been sent the text of a letter Lord Pearson has written to the Director General of the BBC warning him that unless he gives UKIP a slot in the leaders' debate on Thursday, UKIP will tomorrow seek judicial review. I was going to only post part of the letter, but in fairness, here's the whole thing.

I wrote to Sir Michael Lyons at the BBC Trust on 22 December, asking that UKIP should be allowed to participate in the televised debates between party leaders. Sir Michael wrote explaining that you rather than the Trust were the appropriate point of contact, and you wrote to me on 15 January 2010, conveying to me your decision and that of the BBC to reject my request on the following grounds:

“The basis on which judgements are made about relative levels of coverage rests on past and current electoral support. For the election to the House of Commons in 2010, the starting point is the last General Election, in 2005. Similarly, the starting point for coverage of the 2009 European election was the previous European election of 2004. This means that UKIP – on the basis of its strong performance in 2004 – was given the same level of coverage in the 2009 election as the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. In 2005, however, at the last General Election (notwithstanding its performance at the European election less than a year before), UKIP attracted just over 2% of the vote and won no representation at Westminster.

“It is, therefore, appropriate and consistent for the BBC – and other broadcasters – to offer the opportunity to take part in the Prime Ministerial debates only to those parties which have substantial electoral support in the context of Westminster. There will be additional opportunities across the BBC for other parties to receive appropriate coverage responding to the Prime Ministerial debate.”

We have been given no adequate opportunity to respond to the first two debates. What arrangements is the BBC making to address this? How can the coverage be “appropriate” if we cannot reach the leaders’ audience?

The first two of the party leaders’ debates have been held and, as I feared, have given spectacular prominence to the three parties whom you, ITV and Sky TV allowed to take part. The unfairness in our being excluded from the party leaders’ debates is now all too evident.

Most recently, I wrote to you on 23 April, sending you my recent correspondence with Sky TV, and inviting you to rectify the lack of impartiality which broadcasters have demonstrated in refusing to allow UKIP to participate in the televised leaders’ debates. I have not had a reply to my letter to you. The final leaders’ debate is in just two days’ time. The matter is now urgent, and I have done my best to pursue it timeously.

Since time is now short, I have taken advice, in the light of which I should like to draw your attention to the following provisions in the BBC’s own election guidelines:

“3. Due Impartiality in coverage of parties and issues

“3.1 Coverage of the Parties

“To achieve due impartiality, each bulletin, programme or programme strand, as well as online and interactive services, for each election, must ensure that the parties are covered proportionately over an appropriate period, normally across a week. This means taking into account levels of past and current electoral support.

“Due impartiality must be achieved within these categories:

 “clips;
 “interviews/discussions of up to 10 minutes;
 “longer-form programmes.

“Previous electoral support in equivalent elections is the starting-point for making judgments about the proportionate level of coverage between parties.

“However, other factors can be taken into account where appropriate, including evidence of variation in levels of support in more recent elections, changed political circumstances (e.g. new parties or party splits) as well as other evidence of current support. The number of candidates a party is standing may also be a factor.” [my emphasis]

These election guidelines – as you may know – were approved by Jenny Watson, the chairman of the Electoral Commission, in a letter dated 11 January 2010 to Ric Bailey, the BBC’s Chief Adviser for Politics (Editorial Policy), as follows:

“In addition we are satisfied with the draft Election Guidelines, and the approach taken regarding the participation of candidates in constituency items during the election period.”

In the last “equivalent” election, the 2005 General Election, UKIP won 2.2% of the national vote, as you have pointed out. However, in the more recent European Election of last year, UKIP came second in the UK, with 16.5% of the national vote, compared with 15.7% for Labour and 13.7% for the Liberal Democrats. This surely constitutes compelling “evidence of variation in levels of support in more recent elections”. In the circumstances, I should have expected your correspondence to have referred to this provision within your election guidelines. You have allowed Labour and the Liberal Democrats to participate in the leaders’ debates, though they received smaller shares of the vote than UKIP in the most recent test of national opinion, which was the European Election of last year. Yet you have denied UKIP the chance to participate.

Furthermore, UKIP – as of today – is fielding 560 candidates, a number not far short of those fielded by the three parties whom you are allowing to participate in the leaders’ debate. As your own guidelines say, “The number of candidates a party is standing may also be a factor.” I should have expected your correspondence to have referred to this provision of your electoral guidelines too. Certainly, UKIP – in the number of candidates we are fielding in this General Election – is close to parity with those parties whom you are allowing to participate.

Both these circumstances are directly relevant to any decision whether to allow UKIP to participate in the leaders’ debates. Yet you do not seem to have taken account of them in your decision as conveyed to me, or in any of our subsequent discussions.

There is also the question of the BBC’s obligations under its charter, which has been the subject of correspondence between us on many previous occasions. In the leaders’ debate so far, the question of our EU membership, its lack of democratic accountability and its heavy financial and constitutional cost has not been debated at all. Mr. Brown has been allowed to get away with saying, unchallenged, that three million jobs depend on our membership of the European Union. Nor has there been any discussion of our proposal to introduce binding initiative referenda at local as well as national level, which is the only effective way to allow us, the people, to rule once more, as well as to address the issue of corruption in Parliament, to say nothing of the increasing gulf between government and the governed.

It is reasonable and proportionate, having regard to the election guidelines as cited above, and having regard to the absence of UKIP from the first two leaders’ debates, that UKIP should be allowed to participate fairly and fully in the final leaders’ debate.

Since you did not adopt my original suggestion that UKIP should at least be allowed to participate in some part of each debate, and since all other avenues available to me have been exhausted, and since UKIP has been denied the opportunity to participate at all in either of the first two debates, and since time is running out, I must now ask you to reconsider your refusal to allow UKIP to participate in the third and final leaders’ debate, to be aired on Thursday evening, 29 April 2010.

Should you and the BBC fail to accede to this request by noon tomorrow, Wednesday, 28 April, 2010, please take this letter as notice, in terms of the pre-action protocol in judicial review proceedings under the Civil Procedure Rules, that the United Kingdom Independence Party, of PO Box 480, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 9BG, and I as UKIP’s leader, as claimants, will apply to the Administrative Court at or as soon as practicable after 2 pm tomorrow afternoon for judicial review of your decision and that of the BBC, as defendants, expressed in your letter to me of 15 January 2010, to refuse to allow UKIP to participate in the third and final leaders’ debate, and for an injunction requiring you and the BBC to permit me, as UKIP’s leader, to participate in that debate on an equal footing with all others whom you and the BBC shall have permitted to participate.

I regret that the notice is very short, but time is pressing and I have not had an answer to my letter to you of 23 April.

Details of our legal advisers will be notified to you in due course.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch


I don't hold out much hope that the BBC will cave in on this, and to my mind, nor should they. I don't believe Alex Salmond should have a place in this debate and nor do I believe UKIP should either. They are not standing in every seat (unlike the three main parties) - in fact there are 90 seats without a UKIP candidate. At the last Westminster election they scored only 2% and no one could seriously suggest that Lord Pearson is a candidate for Prime Minister - and these are, after all, called the Prime Ministerial Debates. He's also not standing for election himself, unlike the leaders of the three main parties. And if you include UKIP, why not the BNP and the Greens too? Or indeed others?

To my mind the BBC has bent over backwards in its news bulletins and other political programmes to include minority parties - far more than in any previous election.

I just do not believe that UKIP deserves a fourth podium on Thursday, and I suspect the courts will agree.

55 comments:

Moriarty said...

Is Peppa Pig to be invited?

http://moriartysworld.blogspot.com/2010/04/labour-campaign-itinerary-weds-28th.html

Hawkeye said...

I'd let them on. Given Pearson's performance against Eddie Mair on PM this evening, UKIP would be finished.

Pearson made a complete shambles of it. He requested that Mair ask about policy and when Mair did Pearson berated him for no asking about Europe.

If he was in the TV debate, Pearson's political obituary would be written by question three because, by then, the audience would be fed up with "Europe" as the answer to question. Even I would be fed up and I'd pull the UK out the EU tomorrow if I could.

I've voted BTW, and it was not for UKIP.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

So Iain does that mean that the Euro-elections are meaningless? Considering that UKIP did rather well I seem to recall, surely that should have gotten them access to the leaders' debates.

It was a UK wide election and UKIP got second. UKIP have a far stronger case than the SNP for sure.

Liz said...

let UKIP have their debate - put them up against the SNP and the BNP. that should do it nicely

Swiss Bob said...

UKIP should be in on the basis of their European results and the fact that they are fielding so many candidates.

Stepney said...

Given the level of debate so far and the alarming ramifications of the current weekly beauty contest I think we should invite all of the leaders of every party to take part in a one off special Total Wipeout.

I, for one, would hold my breath as Gordon sprang onto the first big red ball; can you imagine the thrill of seeing Clegg being walloped by the boxing gloves, the mirth on seeing Caroline Lucas wallowing in the mud as she finally relates up-close and personal with Gaia; can you see Lord Pearson swinging, tarzan-like, on a rope, a look of abject fear in his eyes and Cameron wobbling around after the spinner has stopped.

I tell you, this is what the country wants, the little parties would be delighted to be invited and the resulting outcome in popularity would be about as valid as what we're enduring every Thursday...

BBC, if you have an ounce of creativity, just get it done. It would be the biggest rated show in all Television history.

cynicalHighlander said...

Democracy is at stake here we are are fed up of living in a two party state slowly eroding our freedoms away so that we are now in the high twenties of full democracies and getting nearer the bottom.

We don't vote for Prime ministers so all these debates are electioneering broadcasts.

Zen said...

One man's way of voting_

http://www.votingwithmybody.blogspot.com/

Feedback welcome!

wonkotsane said...

I had to complain twice to BBC Radio Shropshire before they stopped saying "the candidates" when they were talking about the LibLabCon.

Anna said...

I won't be voting UKIP but I have some sympathy for it. It must be galling to see Nick Clegg leaping up the polls for no better reason than previously undreamed of exposure. However, the same could be said of other parties and a line has to be drawn somewhere. Basing it on previous election results seems fair. Perhaps UKIP could take comfort from knowing that, judging by his performance on the Politics Show and on PM just now, if Lord Pearson had this level of exposure it would get no votes at all!

Interesting thought though. The debate participants get the exposure and the votes, so it will be self-perpetuating. Smaller parties won't stand a chance.

Adrian said...

Fair enough, Iain, but the SNP has a much better case. The difficulty is finding a solution. If the courts told the media they couldn't broadcast the 3-way debate in Scotland, Scots would hate the SNP for depriving them of the chance to watch it.

Adding Salmond to the debate, when he's irrelevant to 90% of the viewers would be a bit weird, but as a compromise he should've been included in one of the three debates.

eb said...

Admittedly I have seen little other than the news for the past few weeks but I have heard nothing from UKIP, or the Greens or the BNP.

Cynic said...

I disagree. they deserve a place

tobyaw said...

“They are not standing in every seat (unlike the three main parties)”

How many parties are standing in all the constituencies? Or are you forgetting about Northern Ireland.

Alan Douglas said...

Lord P makes a much better case with the written word than in interviews.

The BBC could hold the PM debate as arranged, then do another one right after for Lord P, Wee Eck, the Green Monster from the lagoon, and Screaming Lord Sutch, along with Iris from NI and some Welshman, and I don't mean Hain.

They could even use the same set, questions and audience.

But the chairman would have to be Paul Merton.

Alan Douglas

Jeanne Tomlin said...

There is no such thing as a "candidate for Prime Minister"!

If you are so sure he would fall down (and I happen to think he would) why are you afraid to have him appear?

Why are you afraid to have Alex Salmond debate?

Take a look at the party leader debates (what they REALLY are) in Canada and New Zealand, both with systems very similar to the UK. Guess what. All relevant parties appear.

Why NOT in the UK? What is it exactly that you are so afraid of?

Iain Dale said...

The Conservatives are standing in every constituency apart from Buckingham. Even if yoiu take out NI, they are still standing in 73 fewer than the three main parties.

Alan said...

I cannot believe a party that aspires to be a reasonable force in UK politics chooses a leader as ineffectual as Lord Pearson.

He should definitely not be allowed in the debates, on humanitarian grounds, as he would be torn apart.

Farage starts to look intelligent next to Pearson!

trevorsden said...

Mt Dodge - Pearson is not even standing for election. He is a Lord. He can never be PM so why should he be in the PMs debate?

The debates themselves are dumbing down politics. Previously we had speeches oratory and retoric. And we had inteviews, many of them, which people waited for and listened to. Interviews which challenged the candidates.

Now everything is pressed onto the leaders, its all far too presidential. And its just a beauty contest. PMQs has become bad enough, now electins are heading the same way

Colin said...

"no one could seriously suggest that Lord Pearson is a candidate for Prime Minister"

Two weeks ago, people were saying the same thing about Clegg...

Jake Ellett said...

I'm a UKIP member and if I'm being honest I donr think this time around we should be on it. Don't get me wrong, if Nigel (not Pearson!) Were to be on it he would blast them all away and UKIP would have a surge similar to the Lib-Dems. But this time round we don't deserve it, yes we came second in June but that was under PR, turnout was just 34% and it was the European Elections! So in my opinion I say let's wait until the next election to see whether UKIP has enough support for or in Westminster to be able to be on these debates.

seniorspeaks said...

As the biggest public service broadcaster, I think that the BBC should broadcast a separate live minor parties debate on BBC One, in which minor parties which are contesting a minimum of two thirds of the available seats are allowed to debate each other as the major parties have in the Prime Ministerial Debates.

Parties have been given the opportunity to appear in separate debates for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so I don't think the SNP should complain.

cynicalHighlander said...

The BBC doesn’t understand devolution

Magnus Linklater is a Unionist and even he can see the problem created by the 3 tweedles for self promotion rather than what is best for all countries making up the UK you only have yourselves to blame.

RevStu said...

"The Conservatives are standing in every constituency apart from Buckingham."

No they're not, Iain. Like it or not, the UK includes Northern Ireland (the clue is in the name "United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland") and none of the three so-called "main" parties are fielding candidates there. So if the criterion is "fielding candidates in every Westminster seat", NOBODY qualifies to be in the debates.

Similarly, if we're using the hastily-contrived "Oh, they're not leaders' debates they're Prime Ministerial ones" line which was cooked up to exclude the nationalists and others (and which Sky naughtily broke ranks on), then David Cameron should rightfully have the stage to himself.

Clegg has zero realistic chance of being PM due to our corrupt electoral system, while Brown has zero chance of a majority and Clegg has explicitly and specifically said that he won't support Brown as PM in a Labour minority administration. Of the three men participating in the debates, then, only Cameron has any genuine prospect of being PM in 10 days' time.

Of course, theoretically ANYONE can be the next Prime Minister, including Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage. There is no constitutional bar to the Prime Minister not being an MP.

Labour could decide on May 8th to anoint Dale Winton as their leader, and Clegg could support him as a unity premier. One swift ennobling later and Lord Winton of Sweepshire is having tea with Her Majesty and discussing her next speech.

So please, stop squirming and trying to pretend there's some justification, and simply admit what we all know - that the debates are a deliberate, undemocratic and unlawful stitch-up between the big three, aimed at marginalising and excluding opinions they don't like or politicians they can't out-debate.

Scott_D said...

Hi Iain. Totally agree re: UKIP/SNP. I'd actually say the Lib Dems have got rather a good deal as far as their equal participation in debates goes.

BTW - I was one of the officials in the audience at DCLG earlier today. Very much enjoyed it, thanks! Would have preferred fewer panel members and more time for audience questions. Hope you enjoyed it also.

Iain Dale said...

You are wrong. The Conservatives are contesting every seat in Northern Ireland as part of their alliance with the UUP. If you don't believe me, have a look at all the Tory Vote for Change posters going up there.

tobyaw said...

I live in a country with four main parties (Con, Lib, Lab, SNP). With the leaders’ debates, the associated polls, and all the UK-wide television news and newspaper coverage concentrating on only three of those parties, this is a terrible distortion of democracy in Scotland.

The surge in support for the LibDems after the first debate must have had a devastating effect on the SNP, Plaid Cymru, UKIP, and the smaller parties.

anne riddle said...

If Brown or Cameron had the charisma of Lord P but better Politics they would be showing a better poll rating!

RevStu said...

"The Conservatives are contesting every seat in Northern Ireland as part of their alliance with the UUP."

Even if we accept this "alliance" as really being the Conservatives (which it plainly isn't - are the candidates actually members of the Conservative Party?), that still leaves us with Labour and the Lib Dems unqualified to participate in the debate according to your "contesting every seat" criterion.

So why aren't you proposing their exclusion too?

estwdjhn said...

Maybe so, but what about labour and the Libdems? If you have to field a candidate everwhere apart from Buckingham, then Cameron should have the platform to himself.

I understood the original criteria included having enough candidates standing for a majority to be notionally possible, if not very likely... with 560 candidates, a comfortable majority could be obtained if the voters felt so inclined. (And yes, it won't actually happen, but as others have pointed out, Brown has little more chance than Lord Pearson of having enough MP's.)

cynicalHighlander said...

Tory candidate Philip Lardner suspended over gay comments

Looks like you dont have a full house in Scotland now we'll have to think about who is allowed in any debates up here under your rules.

Mr Mundell will be relieved!

Pol-e-tics said...

Sympathy for Lord Pearson that the pro-EU candidate is making all the running, but if UKIP were serious about their Westminster campaign they should have addressed the TV debate issue very much earlier. Even though the debates were agreed only recently, they were always a possibility. UKIP members might even have considered electing a more televisual leader. Next election (6 months?) all parties will need to have worked out a deal with the broadcasters. At this late hour, Lord P's objections seem like sour grapes.

Thorpe said...

It's probably too late for this GE's debates.

But looking forward to the next GE (anyone want to bet me a tenner that it won't also be in 2010?), and if debates continue (moot point), I think the format needs to change.

As with this GE, each debate should have a theme - Economy, Foreign Affairs, Constitution, etc). But for each debate, the main Party Leaders should be joined by 2 others, representing polarised views. Thus, the Greens, BNP, UKIP, SNP or Plaid, English Democrats etc would each get one chance to put across their views, and how they differ from the major parties on their main platform. It would require planning, but that could be sorted. If you run out of non-mainstream polarised views, there are always independents.

Probably going to find no favour with the established parties, but hey - the % of the electorate who don't vote for the three main national parties need a shout as well.

Also, why not publish a threshold vote of the last GE to guarantee a podium for all of the Leaders' debates? 15%?

forfar-loon said...

Iain Dale said:

You are wrong. The Conservatives are contesting every seat in Northern Ireland as part of their alliance with the UUP. If you don't believe me, have a look at all the Tory Vote for Change posters going up there.


By that rationale Iain surely the UUP are contesting every seat in the UK through their alliance with the Tories? Do they then deserve a place in the debates?

And if a UK-wide "alliance" is to be the new criterion (strangely not mentioned anywhere else as yet, but then shifting goalposts have characterised the justification for these "debates") I wonder whether we'll be seeing all kinds of weird and wonderful combinations next time round...e.g. SNP + Greens (England & Wales variety) + whichever NI party hasn't been taken yet. Would other such marriages of convenience then qualify for inclusion?

If you and your party really meant "Vote for Change" you wouldn't be reducing the opportunity for the electorate to hear the full spectrum of political opinion.

Elizabeth said...

Iain - since we don't elect Prime Ministers under our system, these debates can only be seen as election broadcasts and should be treated as such. We have the SNP in Government in Scotland and the party has candidates for Westminster in every Scottish constituency. I have views on Westminster's management of the economy, worries about our troops in Afghanistan, our overall defence strategy and of course as anyone else in the UK big concerns about the major spending cuts coming down the line Why am I not allowed to hear the SNP leader's views argued out in a debate alongside the other party leaders?

Iain Dale said...

Now you're just being desperately pathetic.

Twig said...

If UKIP were on the debate at least there would be a perceptable difference and something to debate about instead of posing and discussing a one percent difference in spending cuts, and making silly quips about sqabbling children. The EU problem will be completely overlooked by the current trio.

jojoko said...

The debates have so far been deadly boring. And I would like to point out that it is not Clegg's policies that are boosting the libdems but his looks. I would like to see UKIP in the debates and the BNP and the Greens but not the SNP as they are only relevant to Scotland. Of course the smaller parties will never be allowed to participate in politics on an equal footing.

Pat said...

More to the point- the existence of a "leaders debate" pretty well proves the irrelevance of members of Parliament- they just form an electoral college to decide who will wield Her Majesty's powers.
Why not just elect a dictator and be done with it:- and if we did that any elected Parliament might actually do what used to be it's job and hold the government to account.

Thatsnews said...

just do not believe that UKIP deserves a fourth podium on Thursday, and I suspect the courts will agree.

I. however, think UKIP and perhaps some of the other small parties should have been given some leader debate time. God knows, there was enough time available. Some of the over-long 'analysis' by journalists could have been curtailed.

RevStu said...

"Now you're just being desperately pathetic."

Come on, Iain. Resorting to name-calling in lieu of an argument is what's "pathetic". Do you have an answer to the points raised? Labour and the Lib Dems aren't contesting every seat, so why do they get to be in the debate when that's your justification for excluding the others?

Iain Dale said...

Glad you concede my point about the Tories. Libs and Lab are contesting 633 seats. They both have MPs. UKIP are contesting 560. They don't.

ukipwebmaster said...

557 UKIP candidates are standing. No mean feat for a so-called 'minority party'!

M said...

The first two of these contests, on ITV and Sky, have totally dominated the campaign. As Alex Salmond said at the weekend, these debates have been the campaign.

And for Scotland not to be properly included in them is a democratic disgrace.

The SNP is the party of government in Scotland, in charge of the NHS, education, law and order and many other of the everyday issues that people base their votes on – and that reason alone should be enough to justify inclusion in the debates.

But this is about much more than any one political party. Because, while ITV and Sky were equally wrong not to have proper representation in their debates, the BBC has an extra special responsibility in this regard.

They are supposed to be Scotland’s national broadcaster – and millions of Scots are asked to pay a licence fee to the Corporation every year.

That licence fee should guarantee that Scotland and Scottish viewers are treated fairly, not as second-class citizens.

forfar-loon said...

Iain Dale said...

Now you're just being desperately pathetic.


Not sure if that was directed at my comment or not. If not I'd be interested in your views, but if so...

Surely it's reasonable to highlight that these debates don't have clear criteria for inclusion.

Who exactly has taken the decision as to who should be included in the debates? And from where do they derive this new-found authority? What checks and balances are in place to mitigate the risk of unjust decisions being made? It all seems rather opaque to me.

All of this is especially important in light of the dramatic impact the debates appear to be having on voting intentions. There is the small matter of electoral law at stake here, and we chip away at that at our peril.

You appear to agree with the decisions thus far Iain, as is your right. But perhaps you won't next time round. What recourse will you have then? The doddery old UK constitution is in danger of having it's zimmer frame pulled away.

No Society said...

So, let me get this right Iain….. Any party who can successfully front all but 90 (14%) of available seats in a General Election is, by your definition, unworthy to be part of a debate funded (BBC) by the electorate. Your UUP/Conservative response to Northern Ireland in the same context is pathetic. Im a fan of this blog, but the more i read during the run up to the big day the more i question your judgement and, by extension, Cameron’s Tories in this democracy. Our democracy.The electorates democracy.

forfar-loon said...

Iain Dale said:

Libs and Lab are contesting 633 seats. They both have MPs. UKIP are contesting 560. They don't.


Before I call it a night, and with due apologies for pedantry, no party has an MP since parliament was dissolved.

The only reason I mention this is that the BBC is supposed to take account of "levels of past and current electoral support" when deciding how much coverage each party should be afforded.

Their capacity to judge past levels of support I can accept, but surely the whole point of the election is to determine current levels of electoral support!

If the Beeb already has the answer why don't they just tell us and save everyone a lot of time, money and effort?! They're halfway there by giving us all a shortlist of 3 parties to choose from I suppose.

RevStu said...

"Glad you concede my point about the Tories. Libs and Lab are contesting 633 seats. They both have MPs. UKIP are contesting 560. They don't."

I don't concede anything about the Tories - are the UUP candidates members of the Conservative Party, or not? If not, then they're not Tories and the Conservatives are not contesting those seats.

As for your other point, I hate to have to correct you, but NOBODY has any seats at the moment. Parliament has been dissolved, and there are no MPs. So your argument appears to boil down to "Labour and the Lib Dems are contesting about 13% more seats than UKIP, so they should be on the debates and UKIP shouldn't."

Which is, y'know, pretty weak.

From your reputation I was hoping for a rather higher intellectual standard than this.

Iain Dale said...

No, my argument is that it is a Prime Ministerial debate between leaders of parties who have parliamentary seats throughout Britain.

Devolution means that SC, WA and NI can have their own debates.

I agree in a Euro election, UKIP should be in a debate - and the Greens.

You are clutching at straws now, so let;s end it here.

RevStu said...

But nobody has Parliamentary seats (since there's no Parliament), nobody is contesting every seat, and if the current polls are accurate than the most likely outcome is that NONE of the debate participants are going to be the next Prime Minister. (The most likely next PM if the polls are accurate looks like being Alan Johnson.)

So that's an argument built on a lot of very unstable sand indeed. Poor show.

Sound and Fury said...

Well, at least one Ukip candidate is getting some exposure on new media (even if the BiasedBullCorporation won't go near them), because Sound and Fury is reporting from Cambridge, with answers from Ukip's Peter Burkinshaw, and an interview with independent candidate (and famous blogger) Old Holborn. (The Tory PPC Nick Hillman has been asked questions by email, but S&F is still waiting for an answer)
http://bit.ly/ajdSHH ( http://dev-null.chu.cam.ac.uk/htm/soundandfury/10-04-27-ukip_old_holborn_and_cam.htm )

DespairingLiberal said...

All Ukip and Salmond are doing is costing TV license payers money, since the BBC is forced to defend these absurd actions at our expense.

neil craig said...

A 4th podium in all the debates would be overdoing it but at least 1 appearance, or a 4th debate, or them being given half an hour (1/3rd of the debate time) to speak unopposed would be fair. Something similar should apply in Scotland & wales though such an extra debate need not be broadcast in England.

I do not share your view that the party that came second in the only election we have where people's choices are not constrained has been getting proportionate coverage. But then I have never accused the BBC of impartiality.

OldSlaughter said...

"Bent over backwards"

Yeah right. Tell Chris Mounsey.

Kilsally said...

Neither Labour nor the Lib Dems are standing every seat, only the Tories are standing in every seat in the UK