Tuesday, December 22, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: UKIP Tries to Muscle in On TV Debates

Click on the image to enlarge

I have just received a copy of a letter Lord Pearson, the new UKIP leader, has written this evening to ITV, Sky and the BBC in an attempt to muscle in on the three leaders debates. In the letter, Lord Pearson writes...

I accept that UKIP will not win the general election, but neither will the Liberal Democrats.

He goes on to suggest that UKIP is allowed to appear in the parts of the debates relating to Europe, Immigration, direct democracy and the economy. It's a good try but simply won't wash. UKIP doesn't have a single seat in Parliament and doesn't even stand in every seat across the UK. If UKIP is let in, what about the Greens ... or you know who? In the end there has to be some sort of criteria for inclusion in the debates. I'd have thought the first hurdle was having seats in Parliament, the second was standing in every, or virtually every, constituency and the third was that there was some sort of prospect of your party forming a government. The LibDems might fall at that final hurdle, but they are only a few per centage points behind Labour in the polls.

Interestingly, there is no threat of legal action in Pearson's letter. All in all, it seems as if UKIP is going through the motions.

Of course the big question is this: if by some remote chance the broadcasters allowed UKIP to take part, who would represent them - Pearson or Farage?


Bob said...

you say WILL not win, they say MAY not.

a big word switch......

Unknown said...

...and, if UKIP, why not the BNP?

OllyDeed said...

They make you laugh. First the SNP and Welsh Nationalists, now this bunch are trying to get in on the act.

They have no MPs and have little prospect of gaining one (maybe Bercow's seat, we shall see). These people have a deluded sense of grandeur if ever I have seen one!

All that aside, these debates are exciting for democracy in the UK. Thankfully we've moved in to the 21st Century and acknowledge the need to galvanize our democracy.

dazmando said...

Wow at this rate what with the SNP and Plaid Cymru and then addng Northern Ireland the Greens UKIP BNP we could have the biggest debate ever. In Most western countrys its between the big two or three parties.

Lib Dems had 6 million votes where as the SNP had 400,000 votes thats less than the BNP in the European elections.

Also they cant just cherry pick there questions. UKIP votes will still vote UKIP I expect and people know they and the Libs cant form a government. However its possible for the Lib Dems to be part of a hung parliament which also makes it important that people here themin a national debate.

If this was the USA then fair enough as there two main parties are massive compared to any other parties, thi sis not the case in the UK.

UKIP and the other small parties however could have there own debate. Would that not be a good idea? I think this wont happen at this rate.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Iain, but I think this highlights the absurdity of the whole debates proposal. It trivialises the election (which is already over-trivialised by the media) and turns it into a soap opera. It demeans our democracy. Why on earth should parties that happened to win seats in parliament in 2005 be especially favoured now?

Plato said...

In that case - the Official Monster Raving Loony Party should take part too.

Good grief - what puffed up numpties these people are

Dave said...

I wouldn't dismiss the UKIP at the next election. There are plenty of folk who hate Labour and don't trust Cameron.
The worry is that the Tory vote is split and Labour crawl back in.
I live in a marginal constituency, currently Conservative, but previously Labour (Kettering btw).
Both Philips Hollobone and Sawford were good constituency MPs.
I think Hollobone is a good guy but distrust the Tory party, so I'm undecided how to vote.

Andrew said...

Once you start to tinker with the system, in this case at the behest of a megalomaniac Australian/American anxious to promote his TV empire, then the laws of unintended consequences come into play, so you should not criticise the other parties for wanting a piece of the action.
My main beef is that the debates ignore the reality of devolution in the UK today. In some nostalgic past election campaign it might have been OK to hold a 3-way debate, but the landscape has changed for ever and such an event now is ridiculously unfair to the other parties. By all means have a debate in Parliament and alter the relevant Act to take account of all the issues which have been thrown up, but to hold this debate just because Sky wanted it is plain stupid.

cassandra said...

The big three trying to hog the MSM for themselves trying to carve up the electorate between themselves and freezing out the small parties?

Hmmmm! Now why would that be in the interests of the big three I wonder? Lets suppose that despite the obviously rigged and faked polls doing the rounds the electorate is turning in increasing numbers to the smaller parties in desperation because the big three are deaf dumb and blind to the plight of the ordinary voter.
The differences between the big three are now so slight and marginal on the big issues, they feel able to promise the earth and then fail to deliver, they all feel that the national interest lie within the new EU superstate whether the public like it or not, all of them are wedded to the idea of man made global warming doom and the insane witch hunt against a harmless trace gas called CO2 which is costing us dear and they have become so used to the trilateral monopoly on Westminster that if they became aware that the voter might just break that monopoly the big three could be very tempted to stage this media circus to encourage the proles to vote for any of the big three.

What we have is a detached political parasite elite so used to the trappings of power that they feel able to ignore the wishes of the electorate, after all if any of the three gets in things will pretty much stay the same, the status quo remains and the big three carry on as before.
People are fed up with being treated like serfs to be used and ordered around like drones, the political classes are finding out an uncomfortable truth, taking the electorate for granted is a mistake. The biggest terror for the big three would be to lose their stranglehold on Westminster.

Anonymous said...

The whole idea is flawed from the start, since we don't elect a Prime Minister directly. It may work in the presidential dichotomies of France and the US, but it simply doesn't make sense here.

But the main problem, and the reason this should not go ahead (or at least not be shown at prime-time in Scotland) is that the debate will centre around devolved issues such as education, health and justice. To show Gordon Brown and David Cameron claiming he is going to do this and this for schools would not only be irrelevant in Scotland, but would potentially mislead the public as to what they are voting for. You might as well have Angela Merkel telling us her policies for German schools. Not only that, but are Brown, Cameron and Clegg going to pontificate on what is likely to be the main issue for Scots in the election, namely increased fiscal powers and the Calman commission? I doubt it, which automatically renders the debates almost completely pointless in Scotland.

Currently, there appear to be noises of Scottish and Welsh specific debates on the side, but these will only fail to address the main issue of Scottish voters who will be forced into hearing English solutions to devolved matters, but you can bet your life savings on them featuring people like Jim Murphy and David Mundell (the Tories one and only MP in Scotland!) rather than Brown and Cameron (they're not going to do five debates), which will merely serve to dilute their importance, as well as providing no challenge to the vastly more capable Alex Salmond.

English audiences are unlikely to watch debates not focussed on English issues), so the very least we'd have is four debates (England-only ones for Sky and ITV, with Scottish and Welsh ones left to the BBC), when even three is arguably pushing the public interest to its limits.

Incidentally some of the excuses on the BBC blogs for why the SNP should not be involved show absolute ignorance, and the whole sorry debacle just shows what a mess UK politics is in.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

UKIP cost the Conservatives 27 seats at the last election. That didn't make any difference. It may next time.

Anonymous said...

If the test is that a party fights every seat, Labour would not be allowed to take part as they do not stand in Northern Ireland.

I still think the BBC should run a "topic" debate three times a week with the lead spokesman from each of the three parties, plus a minor party. With one leaders' debate to wrap up.

jailhouselawyer said...

In 2006 Ireland debated and legislated to allow all prisoners to vote. In their Parliament they said it was complying fully with their obligation under the Convention to abide by the ECtHR decision in Hirst v UK(No2).

Meanwhile, somwhere in the long grass it's not Tiger Woods playing about but the government. Jack Straw should have drafted a Bill to be debated in Parliament. He talks human rights but acts in breach of human rights law.

Prisoner should enter this debate because they have no voice in Parliament. Those who have fiddled their expenses deem that prisoners have lost the authority to vote by their conduct. There is no moral authority qualification for the franchise. If there was, how many expenses fiddling MPs could claim the moral authority for their conduct?

Tcheuchter said...

What you have to bear in mind Iain is that we are not electing a president, and so a face to face debate here is not the same as in the USA where an election boils down to a contest between the two party nominees.

Here we vote for an individual standing in our local constituency. (S)He may or may not belong to a political party or none. Most electors will vote according to party, but not all. Then the leader of the winning party is invited to form a government. It is only right that any party that has a legitimate claim to be seeking a majority in the national parliament should have an equal opportunity to have its views and policies given equal treatment to those of the favoured big parties.

My hope is that these staged beauty contests between the virtually indistinguishable LibLab- Conmen will so revolt the electorate that the electorate will revolt against them.

Unknown said...

Why not simply have one debate for all the lunatic fringe parties?

They would probably be far more entertaining (watching Galloway foam at Nick Griffin for example) than watching the three stooges.

Anonymous said...

No cigar, Pearson. Of course, Farage would be an interesting spectacle, next to the big guns (and the medium-sized gun), but we will get our fill of Nationalist Nigel when he faces Bucks Bercow at the next election.

If you accept UKIP, you accept the SNP, another single-issue party, and then the Greens and the BNP (both, um, colour-based). That will not fly in a country with this parliament, thank you very much.

Pearson would be better off handing out leaflets at the St. Pancras Eurostar terminal.

Libertarian said...

All those who claim that UKIP or any of the small parties with no MPs shouldn't be heard how are alternative parties going to get seats if they are never heard on the media?

Are you scared?

Who wants to listen to the 3 dinosaur parties? They all have the same policies so the level of debate is just ya boo playground stuff.

Will multicultralism, EU, climate fraud public spending waste be discussed by any of them? Of course not

Libertarian said...

By the way once the next election is called NO party has any MP's so that isn't an excuse for excluding others.

psychotrader said...

Atleast UKIP are fighting for something that makes sense... I think there should be a new rule: if a party can't get in power inside 50 years, it should be disbanded for wasting everybody's time.

How anyone ISN'T "eurosceptic" by now is beyond me. Read Dan Hannan's latest blog post for what should be the final word.

wonkotsane said...

The Question Time format is a good one with 5 panellists so why not use the tried and tested format? The debates are a stitch-up - the LibLabCon don't need extra publicity but that's what they're going to get at the expense of the smaller parties.

Based on the 2005 general election results, the parties are ranked as follows UK-wide:

Limp Dims

So a Question Time-style debate would include Liebour, Tory, Limp Dims, UKIP and Greens as there's no point including the SNP in a "UK" debate (it'll be called a "UK" debate even though it'll mostly be about England).

A woman emailed in to a radio programme this morning talking about this and said it would help her decide who to vote for. The LibLabCon are already well known, it's the smaller parties that need the exposure these debates would bring. Why should the LibLabCon be promoted by the BBC, ITV and Sky as the only parties that anyone should consider voting for?

wonkotsane said...

@jailhouselawyer Felons have been banned from voting for centuries. It's part of the punishment and perfectly reasonable. Deprived of liberty and disenfranchised - if you can't behave then how can you be a fit person to decide who runs the country?

Paul Halsall said...

I am a big supporter of Europe (and hence oppose UKIP), and I am glad there is no threat of legal action.

But Lord Pearson DOES have point here. UKIP may have no seats in Parliament, but it showed significant strength in EU elections.

I suppose the thing is that in a TV debate UKIP can only damage the Tories.

ukipwebmaster said...

This is on the main UKIP website so not too much of an exclusive:


Paul Halsall said...

PS: Farage ought to rep them.

People should face up to their best opposition.

[I think Farage made huge mistake resigning as UKIP leader - even though I did not agree with him on the Europe issue, he was a good arguer of his point, and perhaps even more importantly, a very decent voice on the non-Tory Right who did not indulge in rabble-baiting.)

Iain Dale said...

UKIP webmaster. It wasn't when I posted, though, was it?

Adrian said...

This is a difficult area, and it would be wise if parliament laid down some guidelines, so that the courts don't end up getting involved. You can't just say, for example, that parties with no seats can't take part - that would be undemocratic, since the results of the last election are of no consequence once the GE campaign has started. What if a new party had 40% support in opinion polls? It would be ridiculous for it to be excluded.

The decision shouldn't be based on how many candidates a party fields, since then something akin to the Natural Law Party might have to be invited to take part.

To me, it seems unfair that the LibDems should be allowed to take part in all three debates, and UKIP in none. Perhaps the LibDems could take part in two debates and UKIP in one. That would certainly make the series of debates more interesting.

p.s. Is there a site which will list which constituencies are holding debates between their PPCs?

Tcheuchter said...

"tries to muscle in"

Iain, the arrogance of your heading has just fully brought its impact upon me.

Your attitude displayed in the above quotation and in your presumably deliberate misquotation of Lord Pearson's words shows much of what is wrong with your political class.

You and your fellow LibLab-Conmen cannot abide the thought that there might be other people or parties capable of or better at providing a government for the United Kingdom.

How dare these ordinary people muscle in on a debate concerning the governance of this country? you ask. Tell me Mr Dale, how dare the unelected Commission of the EU muscle in on the making of laws for this country? Tell me Mr Dale how your Conman-in-chief proposes to control this control from Brussels now that the Lisbon Constitution has been signed.

"Tries to muscle in" indeed. Your arrogance displayed in that heading and that of all the members of your political class is a warning to the rest of us who believe in a truly liberal and democratic United Kingdom.

I trust the gods will in due course reward the hubris of you and your ilk with a just and devastating nemesis.

ong said...

The unspoken message which is being broadcast by this arrangement is that it is only worth voting for the three major parties; that is profoundly undemocratic.

I hope UKIP do take court action. I think they may well win.

haddock said...

what makes you think that we give a killer of old ladies any credence ?

A killer of a defenceless old woman tut tutting about expense fiddling.... you really can't make this stuff up !

wonkotsane said...

How quaint, someone really believes Dan Hannan is a eurosceptic. Sorry to disappoint but he went native long ago. Where's his "constituency" office for the South East euroregion? He has two - one in Brussels and one in Strasbourg. How can one of his "constituents" get in touch with him? He has two contact numbers - one in Belgium and one in France. They could always email him of course except ... he doesn't reply to emails!

Dan Hannan talks the talk but he certainly doesn't walk the walk. All those people who voted Tory thinking Dan Hannan is going to launch a eurosceptic revolt against the europhile Tory Party leadership wasted their votes. A vote for the Tories is a vote for the European Empire.

Tom said...

So, vote for any of the 3 main parties, and what are you voting for ?

They are ALL dedicated Federalists !

At least UKIP wants to regain our democracy and independence !

Dick Puddlecote said...

The party who came 2nd in the Euro elections shouldn't be allowed to enter a debate about our participation on related issues? That seems very wrong on so many levels, Iain.

Is this about protecting the Tories from the UKIP threat at the GE? Don't answer that. ;-)

Ta for the link the other day, BTW.

bnzss said...

Would you not consider it yet another barrier to entry for politics? I know you are a Tory boy - for better or worse - but honestly even you must see it?

Greg_L-W. said...


one has to laugh at childrens hour with the nevel gazing of the inconsequential in pursuit of the irrelevant!

No one seems ready to join the real world in the smug self satisfied and utterly irrelevant Westminster bubble.

Like one big fairey ring in a meadow.

Clearly to self obsessed and crano rectally retentive to accept or even perhaps realise Westminster is irrelevant - The GE is a sop for fools.

Do read your new Constitution and work out a plan as to how to tell the electorate it would be quicker, cheaper and more meaningful to shut Westminster than continue the farce now that we are directly ruled without any meaningful democratic input by Brussels.

The new global currency is The Carbon Credit and our wealth is deliberately being syphoned off.

IF you are stupid enough to think Westminster has any relevance you are stupid enough!

Just what the global kleptocracy wants fat, foolish and self indulgent nebishes with penny ante scams at Westminster whose loyalty and support is thus bought by their guilt and their greed.

Meanwhile just look at the £Billions that are being ripped off in the warmist scam. A levie on every invoice merely to fund the £billions in bribes.

Westminster is easily bought and cheap!

PLEASE wake up and help defeat the biggest ponzi sceme in history so far instead of weenie waggling at Westminster!

Put them all on TV - this years strictly come politicing - who cares who wins - they will make no difference LibLabEUkipCon all as corrupt and as venal as eachother with no consequential difference between the!

Greg L-W.

JMB said...

If you all the minority parties then you will end up with something like the recent pantomime in Copenhagen where there will be plenty of hot air but nothing gained.

I agree prisoners should not be allowed to vote and perhaps convicted criminals as in some US states though the problem there is that the British police seem to be trying to get the whole UK population convicted of something so they can get hold of their DNA.

Pete Wass said...

The debates as they stand are indefensible. Either restrict it to leaders with a vague prospect of becoming PM or let the leaders of all legal parties in.

If you let one minor party in then it is manifestly unjust not to let all of the others in. UKIP may not have any MPs but they got more votes than the Libdems at the last nationwide election.

Mirtha Tidville said...

I cant frankly believe that anyone is taking this issue seriously.....Does anyone imagine that Joe Public would waste their time watching a political punch and judy show......just Murdoch drumming up some free publicity that a few on here have fallen for..

jas88 said...

I'm sceptical about the inclusion of the LibDems: I think having a straight Government vs Opposition debate would be much more defensible, since the dividing line between those two parties and the rest is far clearer.

I do wish the UK were democratic enough for at least one major party to represent the Eurosceptic position of so much of the country, rather than disenfranchising us, but that's another debate.

As for criminals, I do see the point of someone on a previous thread about the risk of some corrupt Home Secretary or other figure getting a rival's supporters arrested on spurious charges; I'd simply exclude all *convicted* criminals who are either currently doing time or were convicted of serious offences. If the ECHR objects to this, overrule, ignore or withdraw from it: as a matter of principle, foreign interference like that cannot be tolerated.

neil craig said...

The corollary of the argument against letting them in the debates at the general election is that they should have received more TV coverage than the LibDims & equal to Tory & Labour, at the last & future EU elections. This clarly was not done. Heads the establishment wins, tails everybody else loses.

I think it would be up to UKIP to decide who their speaker is.

David Lindsay said...

I suppose that the whole thing might at least expose once and for all that they are all exactly the same. But you can't stretch that out for nine hours.

Of course, if we must have these things, then no party contesting fewer than fifty per cent plus one of the seats should be on them. What on earth for? But by all means let there be further ones in Scotland and Wales featuring the SNP and Plaid Cymru, though not with whoever purports to be the Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem Leader there, but with Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. And let the whole country see, as no doubt we would on BBC Parliament if nowhere else, the look on the face of Alex Salmond in particular as Brown nonchalantly mentioned "At the G8", or "While I was chairing the UN Security Council", or whatever.

The problem with having the BNP on would be that no one would talk about anything except the BNP. As for UKIP, its response indicates once and for all that it is now just another Tory pressure group. If Cameron or his successor (but no one else) promised an In/Out referendum (but nothing more, or any issue), then UKIP would disband. UKIP is a non-domiciled party for people who may not be members of, or voters for, the Conservative Party, but for whom it will always be their natural home. And as of this week, once and for all, it regards nothing but the EU as worth debating, not even in the run-up to a General Election.