You might think it would be a tough sell in a country that prides itself on fair play to seriously suggest that the party that has won the most recent elections for three out of the four tiers of democratic representation in Scotland (Scottish Parliament, local government, European Parliament) should be completely excluded from the major televised debates that are seemingly about to be shown in Scotland. But it seems the propaganda campaign to justify this outrageous proposed stitch-up has succeeded beyond its proponents own wildest dreams - a new Angus Reid poll shows that 19% of Britons think the SNP should even be banned from the Scotland-specific debates! To put this absurdity in some sort of context, the only reason Scottish debates have been proposed with such fanfare is that it's hoped the SNP's participation in them will provide some kind of legal cover for the party's exclusion from the main debates. A bogus proposition, of course, that I suspect the Scottish courts would see through easily if asked to adjudicate - only some kind of SNP 'monologue' could hope to correct the injustice of their exclusion from the main debates, not a programme in which their political opponents get yet more coverage, adding to their already vastly unfair share. But I'd be intrigued to see how on earth the broadcasters would go about justifying the suggestion that the SNP should not even qualify as one of the three leading Scotland-wide parties!
Here are the European election results from just seven months ago, lest anyone has forgotten -
Liberal Democrats 11.5%
Even if we take the one weak link in the SNP's recent performances - the Westminster election of 2005 - the party still outranked the Tories in both the popular vote and in terms of seats. The fact that 20% of Britons feel that a cosy three-way all-Unionist affair would be entirely appropriate for a Scotland-specific debate against such an overwhelming weight of evidence illustrates yet again just how stubborn is this media-perpetuated fantasy of British "national" uniformity in the popular imagination down south.
Fortunately this matter will not be adjudicated upon by the court of UK public opinion, but if necessary by real courts, on the basis of laws, guidelines and precedents that for years now have recognised the SNP's status as a national party on a par with the other three.