Monday, 13 October 2014

The bizarre logic of which political parties are allowed on tv

Today it has been announced that broadcasters have offered Nigel Farage a place in the televised
election debates for next year's general election. This will mean Labour, Conservative, Lib Dems and UKIP will form a part of the televised US presidential style leadership debates first seen in the UK in 2010. But the logic behind the thinking is bizarre to say the least, seeming to be made up more of a list of who's in favour at the time, more than a logical system of who might be next prime minister. What is needed in a genuine democracy is that the media offer the public all the options not simply their chosen few.

I know that there is a possibility Nigel Farage could be the next PM, I expect some in the media would like this to come true. But by the same logic the leader of the Green party could be next PM, granted Natalie Bennett is not an MP but neither is Farage. George Galloway could be the next PM as leader of the Respect party, unlike the other 2 he is a existing MP and has been one before. If we are going to entertain the notion that a party can go from 0 MPs in 1 general election and a majority in the next, then surely their leader being elected as an MP before hand would be a good start?

But UKIP, Greens and Respect are minnows in the grander scheme of things with one MP a piece, the big players are of course Tories with 303 MPs and Labour with 257. In the middle ground are the Lib Dems with 56 and smaller still the DUP with 8, the SNP 6, Sinn Fein 5, 3 independents, 3 Plaid Cymru, 3 SDLP and 1 Alliance. In effect Alliance, Respect, UKIP and the Greens are the joint tenth largest parties, or to put it another way the joint smallest parties in parliament. If it was right to give parties with the most seats a place in the leader's debates than surely the DUP should be the next in line after the Lib Dems?

In 2010 35% of the voting public voted for other parties, it is clear they are not everyone's choice. This is a long term pattern:
When in 2010 only 65% of the public vote and 65% (spooky I know) vote for Tory and Labour then having only them present in a debate is not a viable option. It must be welcomed that parties other than the Tories and Labour are given a place. But there is no logical reason that a few other parties in the media's favour should also be included. This is a democracy and the choice on the ballot paper next May will not be Tory, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP. The media should reflect this, if that means 20 to 30 parties in televised debates so be it. Millions of people that do vote 35% of them don't vote for the same old faces, millions more don't vote at all, why not cater to them? give everyone something different and widen all our horizons. I know people across the UK might not want to watch the SNP or Mebyon Kernow on their tvs but many of us feel the same watching Cameron et al and have lived to tell the tale!

Just saw this as I was finishing: please sign this 38 Degrees petition: Invite all parties to join the election television debates

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