Monday, October 13, 2014

A democratic outrage : the broadcasters plan to totally exclude the SNP and Plaid Cymru from the televised leaders' debates

After the debacle of the rigged 2010 leaders' debates (which not only saw the SNP and Plaid Cymru totally excluded but also saw their voters literally banned from being part of the audiences!), there were signs that one or two of the more thoughtful broadcasters realised that an Anglocentric framework had let viewers down badly and couldn't be sustained in future elections.  Sky's Adam Boulton, for instance, wrote a very good article reflecting on how the debates had totally dominated the campaign to the exclusion of everything else, and proposed that in the interests of fairness the SNP should be given some form of involvement in at least one debate next time around.  Well, those good intentions seem to have gone completely out of the window.  The joint proposal that has just been released is as follows -

A Sky/Channel 4 debate hosted by Jeremy Paxman and Kay Burley (why not chuck in David Starkey and make our lives complete?), featuring the Conservatives and Labour only.

A BBC debate hosted by David Dimbleby, featuring the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats only.

An ITV debate hosted by Julie Etchingham, featuring the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP only.

Once again, the SNP (who have had continuous parliamentary representation since 1967) and Plaid Cymru (who have had continuous parliamentary representation since 1974) are being invited to accept that they should be completely excluded from debates for a parliamentary election.

Let's be clear about this - there is no such thing as a 'national party' in the UK, so that type of excuse for excluding parties who you think your London audiences will find boring doesn't work.  The UK has four constituent nations, and there is no party - not one - that has MPs in all four.  Three parties have representation in three of the four nations, the SNP and Plaid between them (who form a single parliamentary group in Westminster) have representation in two of the four nations, while UKIP have representation in just one nation - as do the Greens.  How exactly do we get from that state of affairs to the inclusion of UKIP and the exclusion of the SNP, Plaid and the Greens?

Nor does an excuse about "at least standing candidates throughout the country" work, because Labour and the Liberal Democrats do not stand candidates in Northern Ireland.  And nor does an excuse about "standing enough candidates for your leader to become PM" work, because in a parliamentary system a party participating in a complex coalition can supply the Prime Minister even with a tiny minority of seats - there are numerous examples of that happening throughout the world.  And that's before we even get to the inconvenient fact that the SNP are now the third biggest party in the UK, with far more members than either the Liberal Democrats or UKIP.

I presume the proposed Cameron v Miliband head-to-head debate would take place before the official campaign period, otherwise by definition it would fall foul of the broadcasting regulations.  But it wouldn't surprise me if the debate involving UKIP is being pencilled in for a date closer to the election, in which case the broadcasters are getting into very dangerous territory - including UKIP on the basis of one or perhaps two MPs, but excluding the SNP and Plaid on the basis of nine MPs.  To adapt George Bush Senior's words after the invasion of Kuwait, "this must not stand".  Mass complaints to the broadcasters are probably now in order, and perhaps even an early legal challenge if the SNP are shut out of the negotiations.

100 comments:

  1. The British political establishment are clearly determined to keep their cosy little unionist arrangement at Westminster intact by excluding the SNP, Plaid, Greens, and the Northern Ireland parties from any opportunity to challenge the Westminster neo-liberal orthodoxy in a live TV debate.

    I would think that there is now a very strong case for a legal challenge against this by the SNP, Plaid, and the Greens, and trust that they do not hesitate to do so.

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  2. Leanne Wood (leader of Plaid) has made a very interesting comment about "taking immediate steps".

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  3. I'd imagine it'll go to court

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  4. Chalks : If so, the legal challenge should be as early as possible, because one of the excuses the judge used for dismissing the challenge last time was that it had come too late.

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  5. The debates are Prime Ministerial, i.e, between potential PMs. Obviously the SNP and PC can never fufill this as, even if they won all seats in their nations, they'd still be a minority in the House of commons.

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  6. Fingers crossed

    If anyone has email addresses for complaints to ITV,BBC,Channel 4 and Sky, could you post them up?

    Bout time they received the full force of thousands of activists ire.

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  7. Re Anonymous - in theory any MP can become a Prime Minister. A small party in theory can become part of a governing coalition and supply the PM. Who are the broadcasters to say who can or cannot be a future PM?

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  8. "The debates are Prime Ministerial, i.e, between potential PMs. Obviously the SNP and PC can never fufill this as, even if they won all seats in their nations, they'd still be a minority in the House of commons."

    You obviously didn't bother reading the blogpost you're responding to. I pointed out that in a parliamentary system, it is perfectly possible for a party to supply the PM even with only a tiny minority of seats. In the UK itself, there was an example in the 20th Century of a party supplying the PM despite having won just 2.1% of the seats (National Labour in 1931).

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  9. re: the debates are for the Prime Minister

    Even the spin / explanation offered by the broadcasters for the 2-3-4 formula (i.e. not having Clegg and Farage in all of the debates) is that the debate with only Cameron and Miliband is the "Prime Minister" debate; the other two are merely leaders' debates.

    Ergo the broadcasters are implicitly admitting that Clegg and Farage are not serious candidates to be PM, otherwise they would be in all three debates, rather than just 1 (Farage) or 2 (Clegg). The broadcasters say they are being added for those debates in the interests of political balance. Yet that in itself is clearly an imbalance, by excluding other minority leaders who won't be PM either.

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  10. "One head-to-head debate between the "two leaders who could become prime minister", Mr Cameron and Labour's Ed Miliband, on Sky and Channel 4 and chaired by Jeremy Paxman"

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29595529

    Even the broadcasters themselves are implicitly saying that Clegg and Farage could not be prime minister. So why invite them (and not other party leaders) at all?

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  11. I'm not one to want to give him advice, but there's a massive PR opportunity for Nigel Farage if the debates go ahead in this format.

    If I were him I'd start every answer with "It's a disgrace the BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 haven't allowed the other parties to take part in this, but I think...."

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  12. As usual ,England does as England wants and all else is ignored.

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  13. This is going to backfire on the westminster bubble media massively.


    It's astonishing that they are so laughably out of touch they still don't realise that the SNP having 80,000 members and rising (twice as many members as UKIP and the lib dems have for the whole of the UK) is going to have enormous consequences.

    The SNP are a party of government who won a landslide a mere three years ago. The kippers are a pressure group on the tories.

    These westminster bubble idiots can't seriously believe that the scottish public isn't going to notice the ludicrous unfairness and contempt for scottish voters that these debates highlight.

    There's also the rather pertinent fact that little Ed and cowardly Cameron are HUGELY unpopular and indeed incompetent twits. So having them in so many debates is hardly going to improve their fortunes any more than the toxic calamity Clegg on the airwaves doing his weekly radio phone in has improved his. Nor will the spectacle of a racist right-wing public schoolboy twit like Farage all over the media do particularly much to reassure scots that we are "Better Together".

    Bring it on.

    I look forward to these debates being spotlighted, disrupted and shown for the westminster bubble sham they are.

    With this and the blatant lies of the VOW the westminster bubble twits really are lining up the perfect storm for a massive backlash in 2015 and 2016.

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  14. It's the way of things.

    Similar reason we get English football highlights but not the Scotland v Georgia game on TV. It's simply not worth a UK-wide organisation's bother to pay any attention to Scotland.

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  15. I predict the very real possibility of Con/Ukip coalition.
    Cameron as PM and Farage as his Deputy.
    Farage never having committed himself to the "vow", won't be bound by it and will veto it.
    Cameron will wring his hands and claim that's the nature of coalition government, the people have spoken.
    Off the hook...contented sighs from some...purring noises from others.

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  16. The greens have a massively strong case to be included along with the Lib Dems and UKIP.

    They got more votes and more seats at the most recent election than the Lib Dems, and also have representation in parliament, and are standing in enough of the country.

    I would think the Greens have a good shot of a legal challenge being upheld to force their inclusion.

    The SNP are in a much trickier situation, they could perhaps force the debates not to be screened in Scotland, but I don't see how they can force their inclusion in the UK wide debates without standing UK wide.

    Perhaps they can get the Weirs to fund them to stand 'devolution' candidates in enough constituencies in Northern England so that they could nullify that argument? This also has the benefit of being ridiculously funny and a massive Fuck you to the Westminister parties...

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  17. "but I don't see how they can force their inclusion in the UK wide debates without standing UK wide"

    How have Labour and the Liberal Democrats managed to do just that, then? Neither party stand in Northern Ireland.

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  18. Going by the fact the last time this was taken to court the judge merely didn't throw it out means the SNP DO have some sort of legal argument to contest the decision.

    As James said, time wasn't on their side, but it is now.

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  19. It will also be helpful to find out precisely who it is making the decisions in each of the broadcasters.

    These debates are already blatantly unfair to scots. However, if the decisions are also made in secret (with utterly spurious 'reasons') by cowardly broadcasting executives who want to hide from the public then that will also feed in massively to perception that these are a cosy westminster bubble media stitch-up.

    These debates will certainly become a focus for scottish public opinion now but certainly not in the way the unionist media or their westminster masters will want.

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  20. I have previously argued in favour of SNP (or SNP backed) candidates contesting some seats in the North of England.

    http://lescunningham.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/a-crazy-thought/

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  21. This shows the current constitutional set up to be completely inadequate. If Scotland had Devo max, which includes broadcasting being devolved, then the Scottish debate for the general election would/could be shown at the same time as the debate in England between Cameron, Farage and Clegg. However, because the UK is not a federal state, we have this absolute shambles of a situation, where the largest party in Scotland (in terms of the highest number of elected representatives and members), the SNP, are barred from these debates. This causes the profile and publicity available to the SNP in general elections to be greatly reduced, and at a much lower level than is acceptable.

    As Bill Clinton did not say: "It is broadcasting, and the UK's constitutional system, stupid."

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  22. Latest Ashcroft poll subsample sample for Scotland:

    62% SNP
    16% Lab
    13% Con
    5% UKIP
    4% Lib
    1% Green

    6% of the UK national total.

    Makes Survation's 50% look pathetic.

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  23. My conspiracy theory is that senior members of the BBC are in collusion with UKIP, they had more BBC/TV appearances, comments, news clips etc. than any Party except the Con/Lib/Lab trio. Because of UKIP news coverage they even managed a List Scottish MEP who I believe never attends Euro Parliamentary business and has offered no service arrangements here in Scotland for the voters. It is this commandeering of TV exposure that allowed the election of their first MP. Pocket or ego, Farage massaging seems to do the trick for UKIP. SNP MPs get little BBC attention or respect. Excluding the SNP from the media shows how scared the establishment are at Westminster and the BBC. And, it is a dangerous game to play which supports a far right party in order to manage the electorate. However, this shows no respect for voters and Scottish voters are clearly wised-up now.

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  24. My conspiracy theory is that senior members of the BBC are in collusion with UKIP, they had more BBC/TV appearances, comments, news clips etc. than any Party except the Con/Lib/Lab trio. Because of UKIP news coverage they even managed a List Scottish MEP who I believe never attends Euro Parliamentary business and has offered no service arrangements here in Scotland for the voters. It is this commandeering of TV exposure that allowed the election of their first MP. Pocket or ego, Farage massaging seems to do the trick for UKIP. SNP MPs get little BBC attention or respect. Excluding the SNP from the media shows how scared the establishment are at Westminster and the BBC. And, it is a dangerous game to play which supports a far right party in order to manage the electorate. However, this shows no respect for voters and Scottish voters are clearly wised-up now.

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  25. I can see why you're upset, and while I don't agree it's a democratic outrage it is certainly another example of the problems created by our current constitutional arrangements.

    The difficulty is there are no sensible, objective criteria for determining who should participate in debates. It's very easy to be self-serving in constructing criteria that permit your preferred party while excluding others, including others who on an alternative, reasonable set of criteria might have an equal or better claim. If the SNP, what about Plaid, the DUP, Sinn Fein and the SDLP? When the vast majority of constituencies are represented by one of three parties, does it make sense to have a nine-person debate? How do you deal with questions which touch on areas of devolved responsibility (do the various national parties step back, or do they get to comment on matters which do not affect their constituents)? To what extent should current popularity and/or success in lesser elections be taken into account in determining composition of the panels? Should national parties be excluded on the basis of their lack of UK-wide presence, or are there some circumstances where that might change? What if one participated in a coalition in 2015 - would that buy them a seat in 2020 (or whenever)? Setting aside party advantage there are a lot of difficult questions without a straightforward answer.

    We are left with a mess. It feels very uncomfortable that the SNP does not have a voice at all, but quite difficult to conceive of a satisfactory format in which it would.

    More generally I agree with Mick Pork about how this will be perceived. It looks very much like the Westminster Village pretending it is politics as usual (with one minor concession to the Ukip surge) at the very time when most of the electorate are, rightly or wrongly, very negative on the three main parties and hankering after some form of change (although heaven knows what).

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  26. I am beginning to despair of all these conspiracy theories around Scottish politics. We lost the referendum, and have to accept the result. We do not have to accept the methods by which the No campaign won, the scaring of pensioners, of some EU nationals, the demonization of Salmond, the abject negativity etc. On the other hand, these crazy conspiracy theories are making us out to be generally batshit crazy, tinfoil hat nutters. I really hope some sanity returns ASAP.

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  27. @Flockers

    Along with the SNP, they are excluding the Greens (both north and south of the border). It makes them look completely and utterly out of touch with wider UK politics, which to be fair they are anyway.

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  28. Muttley, dear, please keep saying that. I've been screamed at for saying the same thing on Wings so often I've given up.

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  29. What an almighty can of worms the BBC has just unleashed. By the way, I wonder what our friends in Mebyon Kernow will have to say, given that they will be fielding candidates in at least 4 of the 6 Cornish constituencies?

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  30. Of course I meant the conspiracy theories thing. Well, the vote-tampering part of it. The trouble is, there are prominent posters there who believe every bloody word.

    Funny thing. I thought the back of my ballot paper was blank too. I said so, quite loudly, saying this was just a normal variant. I'm now told all the papers had that bar code thing. And yet I have a clear memory of looking at half of the back (after I'd folded it) and not seeing any printing.

    Which just goes to show that your memory doesn't notice inconsequential details you're not specifically looking out for, and fails to store them in the recalled image. This is something we all know, of course.

    Gorilla on basket-ball court, anyone?

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  31. @Rolfe Muttley, dear, please keep saying that. I've been screamed at for saying the same thing on Wings so often I've given up.

    I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about?...I have not been talking about any of the conspiracy theories. I have been saying we should accept the result.

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  32. Without the inclusion of SNP, Greens etc., these debates are undemocratic. It is in the nature of things , with all the hype and attention the debates will attract, that it will be 'out of site out of mind' for the missing parties and massive free publicity for labour, Tory, libdems and UKIP all piped into Scotland without the balance of fair and equal representation. If these go ahead will questions, debating point etc be qualified by an announcement "does not apply in Scotland"? It didn't in 2010. It doesn't matter if we get a couple of debates of our own . They can never match the publicity or attention of the National debates. Court action must be taken to stop this affront to democracy .

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  33. A party must field candidates in more than half the UK's constituencies and be projected to pocket more than 5% of the vote. The big four meet those requirements, the various people's front of Judea parties don't.

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  34. Sorry, Muttley, that was kind of what I was talking about, or rather where I started. The need to accept the result rather than blame it on conspiracies.

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  35. "A party must field candidates in more than half the UK's constituencies and be projected to pocket more than 5% of the vote."

    Oh really? Would you care to point me in the direction of a broadcasting regulation that bears any resemblance to the "rule" you've just made up?

    Nice try.

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  36. The last point is the key - without the inclusion of SNP, Greens etc these debates are undemocratic. The idea of a "Leaders' Debate", or "He/She Who Would Become Prime Ministers'" debate is an artificial and quite recent construct which, unless it can square the circle of representing fairly the different parties standing for Westminster in the various different parts of the UK, should not take place. Which state of affairs was also the case before the last Westminster election. A major, high-profile legal challenge is essential - the BBC/ITV won't take the blindest bit of notice of complaints from Scotland or any other peripheral parts of the UK. We are of no significance to them now.

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  37. @Flockers
    How can you not agree that it's a democratic outrage? It's not as if these debates will only be broadcast in England; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will see them too, and yet none of their main political parties will be represented on them. It is yet again an example of how Westmonster, the Biased Bollocks Corporation and all unionists substitute the word British for what they actually mean, which is English. If that is not a democratic outrage, then I don't know what is. Oh, sorry, yes I do - the whole disgraceful arrangement that is called the UK.

    @EricF
    You're absolutely right about the BBC ignoring complaints; I have complained to them several times about various things and the whole system is designed to fob you off and make it difficult to continue with a complaint if you feel it hasn't been properly addressed. You're better off refusing to fund them by cancelling your TV Licence and getting all your information online.

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  38. It also really gets to me when they call the debates ' primeministerial'. They are not. We do not elect a prime minister in this country. Any of that lot could get tossed out and replaced without recourse to the electorate. It is so dishonest. As far as the media is concerned it's all about ratings and they certainly don't rate the opinion of Scotland's leaders.

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  39. Wee Jock Poo-Pong McPlopOctober 13, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    Indeed. The British Constitution - such as it is - does not recognise the concept of a Prime Minister. Remember when Thatcher finally got her marching orders from her terrified Tory "colleagues"? There was no voting for a new Prime Minister then, was there? Talk of a "Prime Ministerial debate" is a media confection and should be rejected.

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  40. You don't need to be an MP to be Prime Minister. A factlette that is worth remembering when answering the Scotophobes and lickspittle quislings.

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  41. That was the great sixth-form debating society point of the broadcasters' apologists last time : "Alex Salmond isn't even standing as an MP". To which the easy response was : "Angus Robertson will do fine. Next excuse?"

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  42. Perhaps an opportunity for SNP / to raise the stakes ?

    Publicly state that objectives in 2015 is to win enough seats in Scotland to hold balance of power in hung UK parliament (which is at least as credible a position as the LibDem and UKIP objectives for May 2015).

    Lay out policies for non-devolved matters (Economic policy, Welfare, Foreign affairs etc) at UK level. Define 'red lines' for supporting Ed into Number 10 on Confidence and Supply basis (make clear under no circumstances will facilitate Tory government, even if they have most seats). Clarify policy on Devolved matters (restatement of 'non-participation' if it doesn't affect Scotland or Barnett, EVEL by another name)


    Clegg and Farage get loads of air time answering 'what would you do if there is a hung parliament?' type questions. If SNP state aim as above then not credible for them not to be asked the same questions and for interviewers to examine details and implications of that.

    English voters are going to be interested in what conditions SNP (or pro Indy Alliance) Scottish MPs are going to lay down to support Ed into Number 10 even if Dave gets more votes/seats in England. (Didn't get the govt you voted for ? welcome to our reality).

    It could be that Ed needs to rely on pro-Indy MPs to get him into number 10 and also do a separate side deal with the LibDems to get a majority for Devolved policies in rUK (Health, Education etc). Messy, but workable, and also serves to show up how tortured the current constitutional arrangements are.

    Making a 'fairness' or 'logical' play for debate space is likely to fall on deaf ears unfortunately, but setting yourselves out as potential kingmakers is more likely to have voters (and broadcasters) in rUK wanting to hear what you have to say.

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  43. "Oh really? Would you care to point me in the direction of a broadcasting regulation that bears any resemblance to the "rule" you've just made up? "

    Why does there need to be a regulation, it just appears to be the sensible criteria they're using to avoid cluttering the podium with fringe and regional splinter groups.

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  44. You may not see the point in complaining, but it is the only way in which decisions like these are judged.

    I.e. They will turn round and say it's fine as no one complained about it.

    SO COMPLAIN, it takes ten minutes, if that.

    Addresses here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/

    And ofcom

    http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/complain/


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  45. "Why does there need to be a regulation, it just appears to be the sensible criteria they're using to avoid cluttering the podium with fringe and regional splinter groups."

    OK, how about this for sensible criteria - you can't exclude the most popular party in one of the four constituent nations of the UK, particularly when you ARE trying to include the FOURTH and FIFTH most popular parties in that nation. But by all means let's exclude People's Front of Judea splinter groups like the Lib Dems and UKIP.

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  46. And by the way, "cluttering the podium" is a rather inadequate euphemism for "respecting the democratic process".

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  47. I'm still laughing at the out of touch twit referring to "people's front of Judea parties" and "fringe" and "splinter" groups while being utterly clueless as to what the kippers actually are or just how much trouble the lib dems are in.

    The kippers have an MP because a TORY MP defected to them and then won a by-election. The kippers are self-evidently a splinter offshoot of the tories. The far-right racist Farage wants to push the tory party to a full blown OUT position on Europe and always has. That is his entire purpose because he sure as shit doesn't have a party capable of governing anything.

    So when the tory party splits over Europe (and, rest assured, it is only a matter of WHEN not if) they will be doing so on the matter of staying IN or OUT of Europe and with the backdrop of a majority of tory activists who want OUT abns a sizeable number of tory MP{s who agree with them. It will also be done with the kippers handful of MPs forcing the tory leadership ever further towards OUT while giving those tory MPs unwilling to back a pro-EU tory leader somewhere to go.

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  48. James, I think you're being a bit parochial. Scotland is of course a nation, and when it comes to determining who should participate in debates at the Holyrood elections it absolutely may be relevant that the SNP is #1 and the Lib Dems and UKIP comparatively much less popular. But the relative importance of the SNP vs LD vs UKIP in Scotland is no more relevant to the question of who should participate in debates re the Westminster elections than the relative importance of the SNP and Respect in Bradford West, or of Plaid Cymru and UKIP in Kent. What matters is the relative standing of the different parties in the UK as a whole.

    There are reasonable arguments for including the SNP in the debates in some form, but they are by no means decisive and the point is open to debate. Measured on the relevant, UK, wide basis, the SNP's share of the vote in historical UK wide elections has been low (obviously), it has very few MPs and relatively low aspirations. You can come up with criteria that include the SNP, but in doing so it is far harder to exclude a raft of other parties focussed in limited geographic areas or even confined to a single seat, which would diminish the value of the debate for the vast majority of the electorate for whom those parties are no more relevant (and possibly less relevant) than parties like the BNP, Socialist Workers Party etc.

    One could argue, if the SNP were to participate, given it is focussed on c.8-9% of the seats, that it should not be given as much time in any single debate as parties that seek to win seats across effectively the whole of the UK and that the SNP should participate only for a proportionate amount of the time. In an hour long debate, that would mean the SNP participating for 5 1/2 minutes (and then as only as one of a number of parties with a right to speak during that time). The SNP's relatively low standing in these elections is a product of its decision to operate outside the UK party system, which carries with it hefty political advantages (e.g. in Holyrood elections) but some disadvantages commensurate with the SNP's position as a minority party relevant only to a small proportion of the UK population.

    I think on balance it would be best if the Scottish and Welsh broadcasters each hosted a debate that involved the local nationalist parties alongside the other contenders in that region. If needs be coverage of the UK wide debates could be excluded from those regions (As far as possible) to minimise unfairness. I would then have only two UK wide debates, one with the big three and UKIP and one between the big three. I don't see justification for a Cameron vs Miliband debate or any lessening of the status of the Lib Dems. It is quite right that UKIP participate to an extent given their success in the Euros and significant levels of support in UK-wide opinion polls.

    But there is no scientifically correct answer to this. It's all art rather than science. No point pretending there is only one possible solution, or only one democratically appropriate formulation.

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  49. "James, I think you're being a bit parochial"

    Well, I think you're being a bit imperialist, so it's swings and roundabouts, really.

    A second-string regional debate is not the solution, it's a fundamental part of the problem. We have ample evidence from last time round that nobody pays the blindest bit of attention to that type of debate - using them as cover is a bit like saying it doesn't matter if we show the Lib Dem party election broadcasts at 3.30am. But even if second-string regional debates did have the same status and audience as the real debates, it still misses the point that they don't remedy the imbalance, because the three parties that have already been given far too much coverage will be given yet more coverage in those debates as well. If the broadcasters were serious about correcting the imbalance, the only serious solution is a prime-time interview with Nicola Sturgeon or Angus Robertson on each of the offending channels, without the other parties being present.

    "One could argue, if the SNP were to participate, given it is focussed on c.8-9% of the seats, that it should not be given as much time in any single debate as parties that seek to win seats across effectively the whole of the UK"

    Oooh, I love the way you said "effectively" there - in other words they don't stand across the whole UK. More realistically, one could argue that a party with six MPs should be given more airtime than a party with only one - but don't worry, parity with UKIP will do just fine.

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  50. "If needs be coverage of the UK wide debates could be excluded from those regions"

    That would of course be a solution, but you and I know there isn't a cat in hell's chance of that happening - unless an interim interdict is issued after a legal challenge by the SNP.

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  51. The leader of the SNP has to debate with other leaders, as they are the decision makers. A Scotland only debate is pointless, as Lamont, Davidson and Rennie have no power. They are only branch leaders of their respective British parties.

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  52. There's nothing even slightly imperialistic about saying the relevant perspective in a UK wide election is the UK perspective (and not the Scottish perspective, or the Kent perspective). That's a fact.

    I used the word "effectively" for the sake of accuracy. If there was a threshold condition that parties stood in every one of the 650 constituencies, none would qualify. As it is, it is reasonable to discount the NI seats, which are contested by completely different parties. That still leaves 636 seats, or 97.8% of the total. Several parties will seek election in every single one of the seats, while also enjoying (in some cases very substantial) Westminster representation and significant popular support over a sustained period.

    You say "More realistically, one could argue that a party with six MPs should be given more airtime than a party with only one - but don't worry, parity with UKIP will do just fine" - do you therefore propose that the DUP (8 seats) should also participate? What about Sinn Fein with five seats? Is six the magic number? If not, you've got Con, Lab, Lib, Ukip, SNP, DUP and Sinn Fein, so seven parties already, of whom three speak to less than 10 per cent of the population. And that's before you consider the claims of Plaid and the SDLP, who with three MPs apiece and a significant share of the vote in their home countries, would be justificably miffed if you set the benchmark at a level that suits the SNP but not them. So that's nine participants, of whom more than half have no relevance to 90% of the population. I am not sure that's particularly democratic. Or particularly useful for the electorate.

    Local debates in Scotland and Wales will be of lesser status; there's no denying that. But as I said in my post, that is the price the SNP may have to pay for being a Scotland-only party.

    As to the suggestion of a prime time interview with Nicola Sturgeon or Angus Robertson, well I don't see any case for showing it on UK wide TV, because again it is of no interest or relevance to the vast majority of the electorate. Nor does it seem right to address one arguable injustice with another more blatant one (though who it is an injustice to would depend on the nature of the questioning - I would rather face Nick Clegg than Andrew Neil).

    Besides, I think the SNP has much to gain from continuing to be outsiders.

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  53. Cameron is apparently coming out against the debates....so it may not happen.

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  54. "There's nothing even slightly imperialistic about saying the relevant perspective in a UK wide election is the UK perspective"

    There is when you (and the broadcasters) are demonstrably unable to distinguish between an English perspective and a UK perspective. In any event, the six seats that the SNP have were won in a UK election, not a Scottish one. Therefore, they should be taking part in the UK debate.

    "If there was a threshold condition that parties stood in every one of the 650 constituencies, none would qualify."

    Precisely.

    "As it is, it is reasonable to discount the NI seats"

    Why?

    "do you therefore propose that the DUP (8 seats) should also participate?"

    Can you think of one good reason why they shouldn't?

    "But as I said in my post, that is the price the SNP may have to pay for being a Scotland-only party."

    In other words, broadcasters are making an arbitrary choice that certain parties must be penalised. This is (allegedly) a democracy - just who the hell do they think they are?

    "As to the suggestion of a prime time interview with Nicola Sturgeon or Angus Robertson, well I don't see any case for showing it on UK wide TV"

    Why not address the point I actually made rather than set up a straw man?

    "Besides, I think the SNP has much to gain from continuing to be outsiders."

    Oh yeah, being totally excluded from the debates was such a boon for them at the ballot box in 2010.

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  55. With so many cancelling their TV Licence any possibility of a Freedom of Information request to see just how many folk are still paying it in Scotland?

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  56. James, you can't spin this as me looking at it from an English eprspective. I have already explained in some detail the UK position, which you cannot deny the reality of. The SNP has six seats - out of 650. It has the support of c4% of the UK electorate and is standing in <9% of the seats. An arguable case can be made for its inclusion in the debates, but it is no more than an arguable case, and certainly not decisive.

    It is reasonable to discount the NI seats for the purposes of determining whetehr the major parties qualify, for several reasons, most of which I touched on above - the fact they represent 2.2% of the available seats does not undermine the big three's claim to participate in the debate, when they stand in the other 97.8% of seats, and have a history of winning a decent number of them and forming the Government. The SNP can make no such claim. It would be absurd to have the leaders of parties standing across the overwhelming majority of seats swamped - literally outnumbered - by parties appealing to as few as 16 constituencies and with no realistic possibility of forming the major party of government. It would make the debate unwatchable, and deny any chance to explore the policies of the main parties, the ones standing in 97.8% of seats, in any depth. Crucially, this is not just an English issue, although it would be felt most keenly by the English. The Welsh would have to bear a debate in which almost half of the participants were not standing for election in their constituencies, the Scots the same and for the NIrish, more than half.

    This is a democracy. Media coverage is only one small part of it. We can either have some sensible debates, or no debates at all. I would like to see some debates, so my priority is trying to make sure they happen. I don't believe it is necessary for democracy for the leaders of the main parties to share the stage with leaders of parties who are not competing to form the government and who most of the electorate will have no opportunity to vote for.

    I didn't set up a strawman - you suggested the interview. I was just pointing out that it wouldn't make sense for it to be on UK wide TV, and then noting that it would replace one possible unfairmess with a more manifest unfairness (whether shown in Scotland or the UK).

    It is at any time open to the SNP to operate within the UK political framework and form common cause with parties across the UK seeking further devolution or independence for the various nations. Such a party, were it to gain popular support and seats, would likely meet any criteria you care to name for inclusion in the debates. The SNP chooses not to operate in such a way, for very good reasons, that are generally to its advantage. But they have to accept some adverse consequences.

    Just as the people of Scotland have to realise that, having declined independence, from time to time it will not always be about Scotland.

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  57. "James, you can't spin this as me looking at it from an English eprspective."

    An Englishman who claims to be "explaining the UK perspective" while saying that it is "reasonable to discount Northern Ireland" from that perspective is guilty of either a) spin, or b) not understanding the difference between the UK and England. Which is it in your case?

    "I didn't set up a strawman - you suggested the interview."

    Which was a rather less specific suggestion than the one you dismissed. But as you seem to have your own dictionary, doubtless "straw man" means something different to you as well.

    "The SNP has six seats - out of 650"

    UKIP has one seat - out of 650. Feel free to keep digging.

    "It is at any time open to the SNP to operate within the UK political framework and form common cause with parties across the UK seeking further devolution or independence for the various nations."

    It has already done so. The fact that you are seemingly unaware of that fact speaks volumes.

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  58. "Just as the people of Scotland have to realise that, having declined independence, from time to time it will not always be about Scotland."

    I'm afraid it's the London establishment that have to learn something. Alex Salmond famously offered them the choice of a good neighbour instead of a surly lodger. They chose the surly lodger - and indeed exacerbated that problem with bullying, lies and promises that have proved to be false. They have to understand that their choice, and their actions, have consequences.

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  59. I think a lot of this is missing the point.

    The SNP (along with the LibDems and UKIP) are all in a position to hold the balance of power in a hung parliament (realistic chance of getting 20 or more seats).

    Each of them could therefore be in a position potentially to decide who gets into Number 10 and what government policies could be at a UK level.

    On that basis they should all be included in the debates so that voters across the UK are aware of what they are likely to get after the GE.

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  60. Ivan, that's fine in principle, but the problem is that the SNP are much less likely to hold the balance of power if they are prevented from taking part in the debates - we know how they slumped in the polls after their non-appearance in the first debate in 2010. That's why the basic democratic argument is the most important one - the broadcasters are shaping the election result with their actions, and that just isn't on.

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  61. Yet another example of how the union is disfunctional and not fit for purpose.

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  62. James, I am afraid you are now just taking parts of sentences out of context and misconstruing them. All of my emails have been completely consistent. Looking at the UK as a whole there are only a small number of parties - excluding the SNP, Plaid and the Northern Irish parties who are standing for election in substantially the whole of the UK (97.8%). I have not said that is the whole criteria on which inclusion in the debates should be judged, but that it is reasonable to take into account whether a party is standing for election in the vast majority of constituencies and whether it is capable of leading the Government.

    All I have said, which should not be contentious, is that there are a range of criteria that could be applied, that on some of them the SNP have a case for participation but it is not unanswerable, and that applying those criteria is an art not a science and one that is prone to partisan interpretation.

    I am not, as you suggest, digging. I have made clear in my posts above why a test based on seats alone does not work. Even if it did, one would have to determine how many seats reaches the threshold. It is not clear that holding 6 seats, less than 1% of those available, would be sufficient to automatically qualify for inclusion.

    Ukip (currently) only have one seat, but will be standing in many more seats than the SNP, have won a UK-wide election in the last twelve months, and, polls suggest, enjoy a much more significant level of support across the UK as a whole (the relevant demos) than the SNP. All of those are valid arguments Ukip could make for inclusion in some or all of the debates, ahead of or alongside the SNP. On balance I think the case has been made for UKIP to be included in the debates in some form or other. But that is arguable. It just seems on balance to be a stronger argument than that favouring the SNP, in the context of a UK-wide election.

    My comment about the SNP choosing not to operate within a UK framework should have been sufficiently clear but as you have misinterpreted it I will spell it out. The SNP could choose to form a broader, UK wide political party. It has chosen not to do so. That has benefits for the SNP, in Scotland. But it also has disadvantages. One of which is that it is less relevant in UK elections (although of course that may change in the future if the SNP significantly increase their number of seats and hold the balance of power).

    London did not choose a surly lodger. The people of Scotland democratically chose to remain part of the UK. Whether the relationship is cordial or frosty depends on both parties. I have bneen very clear on here that Westminster must uphold its end of the bargain and deliver the extensive further powers that were offered. It is far too early to say that Westminster has reneged on that.

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  63. "And that's before we even get to the inconvenient fact that the SNP are now the third biggest party in the UK, with far more members than either the Liberal Democrats or UKIP."

    A fact some still don't seem able to grasp James. Not that we would expect them too of course.

    @chalks

    "Cameron is apparently coming out against the debates....so it may not happen."

    He's been making the same noises for months. The latest twaddle is that the tories are scared that little Ed has such low expectations that he has nowhere to go but up. Aside from the fact the incompetent fop Cameron is also a massive liability it also ignores the fact that calamity Clegg has managed perfectly well to keep getting worse and dragging his party ever lower regardless of incredibly low expectations.

    The truth is that the out of touch twit Cameron is trying to move the debate with Farage to long, long before the most vital period of the election because he is terrified of trying to defend himself and his party on Europe and immigration against Farage and the kippers.

    The chumocracy is already running about the commons like headless chickens threatening BOO and Eurosceptic tories lest they too piss off to the kippers. Something that is unlikely to work particularly well given recent history and an amusingly incompetent chief whip like Gove.

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  64. Also for those unaware of just how pitiful and comical THE VOW now is..

    "None of the three main party leaders – the only people who actually signed “The Vow” – turned up for today’s debate. Nor did No campaign leader Alistair Darling.

    The bulk of the time was spent discussing “English votes for English laws”, rather than any kind of devolution at all. Gordon Brown, the architect of the plan, spent his 10 minutes or so obsessed with Scottish Labour MPs not being made “second-class”. SNP MPs were slapped down by the Speaker for protesting that Scotland was rarely even mentioned. (Our live-tweet feed archive is here.)"


    http://wingsoverscotland.com/another-holiday-needed/

    Entirely as expected. Massively out of touch and hilariously clueless when it comes to EV4EL since it was already covered by the McKay Commission. Not that witless tory backbenchers would have a clue about that of course despite some of us laughing about their complete and utter obliviousness to it at the time.

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  65. "who are standing for election in substantially the whole of the UK"

    Would you listen to yourself, man? Next it'll be "much of the bulk of the primary part of the UK, in essence".

    "It just seems on balance to be a stronger argument than that favouring the SNP"

    Yeah, because one is (essentially) a bigger number than six, isn't it? I think that's how it works.

    "The SNP could choose to form a broader, UK wide political party."

    So could Labour and the Liberal Democrats. They have both chosen not to do so, and yet that hasn't precluded their involvement in the debates. All that we ask is that precisely the same logic apply to all parliamentary parties, including the SNP.

    "The people of Scotland democratically chose to remain part of the UK."

    In a referendum that was tainted by the broadcasters joining in with a campaign of terror designed to produce a No vote. That's what I meant by "the London establishment having to lives with its choices and actions". They opted for the surly lodger, and it's too late for them to complain when they get it.

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  66. James, you're being ridiculous.

    One is not bigger than six, I have never said that or implied it. I have set out my position perfectly clearly and consistently above - the number of seats currently held is just one of a number of arguably relevant factors. By all means try to rebuff it by demonstrating that it is universally accepted and unquestionably the case the only factor that should matter is the number of seats currently held (and that six or fewer is the relevant qualification - which was not the case in 2010 debates when neither the SNP nor the DUP participated), or that if another party qualifies by another route (like arguably Ukip does) it should automatically mean any party with the same or more seats than them should also be invited (or some other construct which means at least the SNP should).

    By all means rebut the argument that Ukip's candidacy across a vastly larger number of seats than the SNP, recent victory in a UK wide election and strong suport in UK wide polls are also relevant factors. Go on, engage with the arguments, rather than just dumbly characterising a reasonable alternative viewpoint as 1>6.

    Labour and the Lib Dems are each part of a broad UK wide group. They may have separate Scottish parties, but they all take the whip at Westminster. The SNP does not have an equivalent arrangement.

    Tainted election? Campaign of terror? Dear God listen to yourself. Do you think the people of Kobani are preparing their letters of sympathy as I type? I can picture them now: "Dear James, I am sorry I haven't written sooner, but I have been temporarily inconvenienced by the need to bury the remains of my family. I am writing to give you my support. I am sure it must have been absolutely harrowing being given the opportunity to vote in a referendum on your country's future, to express your views on the internet, to assemble and communicate freely, to raise campaign funds, to select your own leaders and have them debate their opponents on television and to participate in a democratic process subject to independent scrutiny and rigorous processes. I can quite imagine how awful that was. I cannot, however, imagine the sheer terror you must have felt when your polical opponents exercised their right to free speech by making contrary arguments in the media and on the streets. I used to think we were the subject of a campaign of terror here, you know, with the mass beheadings, rape etc. But having heard of your plight (not to mention the Nazi intentions of Ruth Davidson!)I have vowed never to use the word "terror" so lightly again. Now forgive me but I must go - a gang with machetes have arrived and would like a quick word. Stay strong James. Yours, xxx"

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  67. "By all means try to rebuff it by demonstrating that it is universally accepted and unquestionably the case the only factor that should matter is the number of seats currently held"

    Let me just gently point out to you that if the test to be applied is that the relevant factors must be "universally accepted", neither you nor the broadcasters have a leg to stand on here.

    "By all means rebut the argument that Ukip's candidacy across a vastly larger number of seats than the SNP, recent victory in a UK wide election and strong suport in UK wide polls are also relevant factors."

    I refer you to the countless answers I have already given you. Hint : READ them this time.

    "Labour and the Lib Dems are each part of a broad UK wide group. They may have separate Scottish parties, but they all take the whip at Westminster"

    What are you wittering about now? Since when have Labour had a "separate Scottish party"? Neither Labour nor the Lib Dems are part of a "UK wide group". If you think they are, tell me who their respective leaders are in Northern Ireland. In your own time.

    As for your little pastiche about the campaign of terror, you could of course have substituted that with Nick Robinson and Tom Bradby telling their viewers in hushed tones about how Scottish independence would lead to a catastrophe that would make the Great Depression seem like a tea party. Oh wait, that actually happened, didn't it?

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  68. James,

    Of course that is not the test - that is the whole point I have been making. There is no single definitive list of criteria for participation in debates. You are the one implying that there is, and saying that it is a democratic outrage that the SNP are not participating. And you have not rebutted any of the points I have made about the arguable superiority of Ukip's claim, except to lamely pick up on my own volunteering of the fact the main Westminster parties don't stand in Northern Ireland. Even then you have not sought to explain why the fact no party stands in all 650 seats means it is irrelevant how many they stand in. And you haven't engaged at all on the points about Ukip's victory in a recent Uk wide election and current strong polling in Uk wide polls.

    I will concede I misinterpreted your point about Labour and the Lib Dems. I thought you were trying to make a sophisticated point about their constitutional arrangements in Scotland. It wasn't clear you were banging on about Northern Ireland again. As I have noted above, I don't think a serious challenge can be raised to any party's participation on the basis that they so not have candidates in 2.2% of the UK. I do think its legitimate to question whether a party that does not stand in 92% of the UK should participate in the debates. It seems that the broadcasters agree.

    On your specious last point, I am happy for history to record me saying that there was no campaign of terror and the referendum was free and fair. You are welcome to take a different view, and to be wrong.

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  69. If I really wanted to work at it, I might be able to get myself angry. But honest to Pete, it reassures me. If the BBC approved of the party I was working for I'd know I was barking at the moon.

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  70. "It wasn't clear you were banging on about Northern Ireland again."

    Oh, you mean that integral part of the United Kingdom? Yeah, what am I thinking of mentioning that again?!

    "Even then you have not sought to explain why the fact no party stands in all 650 seats means it is irrelevant how many they stand in"

    Hmmm. It might even be relevant how many seats they actually win - you know, like the SNP's six compared to UKIP's one. I presume your 'rebuttal' of that will be "stop banging on about these blasted inconvenient facts!"

    "You are welcome to take a different view, and to be wrong."

    When I say you're guilty of imperialist arrogance, others are of course free to quibble about the "imperialist" bit.

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  71. James, I have not denied that the number of seats is a relevant factor. I believe it is relevant. But I believe it is not the only relevant factor. And I believe it is reasonable to question whether, even if you think it is the only relevant factor and all others can be disregarded, holding less than one percent of the seats would be sufficient to qualify. As I pointed out, it was not sufficient in 2010. You seem to argue the Plaid Cymru's three seats also suffice, which by extension brings three Northern Irish parties into the debate. Which has no obvious legal or logical basis (aside from being convenient to the SNP) and creates a nonsensical platform in which leaders competing for votes in 2-8% of constituencies outnumber leaders who are competing in 97.8% of constituencies and to govern the UK. A chance to explore the policies of the only major parties on a Uk scale would be lost. I don't think that is a sensible end position. As previously noted I would be open to other formulations that allow the SNP, Plaid etc to participate in their own debates and to broadcasting restrictions that minimise unfairness; and the SNP have options if they want to develop a presence outside Scotland, albeit perhaps not palatable. That's the trade.

    Very happy to be called arrogant if the alternative is subscribing to the view the yes campaign was defeated in a tainted election by a campaign of terror. Truly an absurd statement and one I expect in a calmer moment you would regret.

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  72. Flocker.

    Terrorising pensioners. Terrorising transplant patients. Terrorising oil workers, shipyard workers, bank workers, insurance workers.

    Terrorising an entire country.

    Stick your racist hatred of Scots up your english arse and fuck off and die.




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  73. Charming. You're a great credit to this site.

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  74. Yes, well I'm sure you were grateful for Anon's final sentence, Flockers, because if it hadn't been for that you would have had to answer his otherwise excellent point.

    Do you have an answer?

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  75. To me the only real objection is that the SNP aren't standing in more than half (or whatever threshold you deem to set), however if they enlarged their parliamentary group (including Plaid) to contest more seats to meet the threshold - then the group's representative should be in the debate.

    This isn't about the SNP but about the SNP/Plaid/(and perhaps Green??) parliamentary grouping being represented.

    So Flockers/James would you be able to agree to that?

    Either way the allowance of UKIP is ridiculous.

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  76. Seriously James? You think I am glad to be invited to die for the second time on your site? And falsely accused of racist hatred of the Scots? And you think the big issue in that little exchange was not the invitation to die or the defamatory allegation, but that it allowed me not to answer a point I have already categorically addressed: Scotland was not subject to a terror campaign.

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  77. If the broadcasters would actually set a consistent threshold for SNP/Plaid inclusion, we could go about reaching it. At the moment the message seems to be "you're not getting in no matter what you do or how popular you are".

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  78. "Scotland was not subject to a terror campaign."

    So you can't address any of the specific examples of the terror campaign that Anon raised, then? I wonder why.

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  79. ben madigan here from eurofree3.wordpress.com
    First i would like to say I fully support a SNP+greens+SSP alliance for Westminster seats in GE2015
    Secondly might I suggest a further, loose alliance - SNP etc+Plaid Cymru+Sinn Fein (Northern ireland)? You can even throw in the cornish Kernow party if they are interested as they want their own assembly but have not yet considered independence.
    Suddenly we have a UK-wide party -
    Might the alliance be interested in the Sinn fein abstentionist policy?
    What would it look like if they all refuse to take their seats in westminster and swear the oath of allegiance?

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  80. Grim, it would certainly strengthen the case - more seats, more supporters, less concern about the debate being too crowded etc. But I am not sure the parties could agree on a common spokesperson, so unlikely to happen in practice

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  81. Flockers : Not at all. The SNP and Plaid work very closely together and they would be able to reach an agreement easily. So that excuse for excluding both parties doesn't work either, I'm afraid.

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  82. James, are you kidding? Anon hasn't raised any specific examples, and he (I assume a he) hasn't provided any evidence. I simply don't accept that pensioners, patients, oil workers, shipyard workers, bank workers etc were subject to a terror campaign. There was a robust debate on the risks and benefits of independence. The yes campaign rebutted (most) of the no campaign's arguments vigorously and were not above making alarmist claims about, for example, the fate of the NHS in Scotland as part of the UK. Does that make you a supporter of terror? Of course not. There was nothing even close to a terror campaign.

    It really is tremendously sad that someone can make false allegations of racism and tell one of your posters to die, and you then side with them. Worse that you do so despite the obvious paucity of their argument.

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  83. For heavens sake James, I am not looking for excuses to stop a unity nationalist candidate standing - I acknowledged it strengthens the case for inclusion. I was pointing only to a practical difficulty. If it can be overcome, then great, the facts have changed and the broadcasters and others have to consider whether to invite the unity candidate in.

    I agree that it would help if the criteria they used was made public. I suspect they have, as I have been suggesting all evening, taken into account a range of factors, and ultimately exercised judgement as to the weight to apply to each.

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  84. "Anon hasn't raised any specific examples"

    Odd that you managed to repeat most of them.

    You really do live in a world of fantasy. Did you ever bother listening to the Stuart Cosgrove interview I pointed you to a few weeks ago that castigates the broadcasters' antics during the referendum, or are you determined to stick your fingers in your ears when you encounter any argument that challenges your preconceptions?

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  85. The best way to avoid this would be not to have televised debates at all. They add absolutely nothing to the debate. Plus they don't lend themselves well to parliamentary systems of government.

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  86. "I am not looking for excuses to stop a unity nationalist candidate standing"

    Sorry - "candidate"? Are you mistaking this for a presidential system?

    "I suspect they have, as I have been suggesting all evening, taken into account a range of factors, and ultimately exercised judgement as to the weight to apply to each."

    Yes, after due consideration the weightings for each factor are roughly as follows -

    We can't let a bloody Jock party in : 100%

    All other factors combined : 0%

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  87. Risible James. Those aren't specific examples - if you or anon cared to specify when oil workers (for example) were terrorised, I would be happy to respond. Merely asserting that they were carries no weight whatsoever.

    I did read the Cosgrove interview. He made some interesting points, though clearly is not a disinterested observer either personally or professionally. I'm afraid he does not provide any support for the assertion that the Scots were the subject of a terror campaign, which remains nonsense. No doubt the broadcast media coverage was not perfect and could be improved. But as I said when we last discussed this, both sides can point to examples where they felt hard done by, and neither can say they were not given ample opportunity to get their views across.

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  88. Candidate, delegate, representative - use whatever term you like.

    Back to being parochial again, now with added paranoia. There's no reason to believe that anti-Scottish sentiment is driving this. The SNP, along with the Irish parties and Plaid Cymru, are prejudiced by their limited geographic scope and relative lack of importance in a whole-UK election. There are some solutions but realistically the one where they all participate equally on the same stage with the major UK parties is not the most likely, nor would it be terribly democratic.

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  89. "I'm afraid he does not provide any support for the assertion that the Scots were the subject of a terror campaign"

    Of course not - that wasn't the failing he was flagging up. He was pointing to a complete lack of balance on the BBC News channel (for example giving Better Together spokespeople three times' the airtime of Yes Scotland, and calling that 'balance' because BT were a three-party alliance!).

    "But as I said when we last discussed this, both sides can point to examples where they felt hard done by"

    Would you care to hazard a guess whether the broadcasters received more complaints from the Yes side or the No side? Why do you think it is that Better Together were posing as the BBC's heroic defenders towards the end? They didn't sound to me like a campaign that felt hard done by.

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  90. "There's no reason to believe that anti-Scottish sentiment is driving this."

    OK, describe to me the circumstances in which the broadcasters would ever allow the SNP into one of the real debates. They're already leading the opinion polls in Scotland - do they need an even bigger lead? They already have six times as many parliamentary seats as UKIP - do they need twelve times as many? They're already the third largest party in the entire UK - do they need to be the second largest?

    Is anything ever enough for a Jock party? You'll have to forgive my scepticism.

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  91. It's hard to say. Clearly the more seats the SNP win, the stronger their position. If they formed part of a UK coalition government, I should think they would be included. I don't think vote share in Scotland alone will ever suffice because it doesn't translate into a meaningful number at UK level. Seats alone might, if the SNP put clear blue water between them and the other minor UK parties. Maybe 20 would be enough. But who knows? It's an art not a science. Membership numbers could also be another relevant factor, although not necessarily one to put much weight on, given that the indyref has had a sudden, dramatic impact. Again that could be debated.

    On your other post, of course there were more complaints from the yes campaign. I am not disputing that. Whether that reflects an imbalance in coverage or the level of sensitivity/passion/suspicion of the yes campaign is another question on which we can all have different views.

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  92. "Whether that reflects an imbalance in coverage or the level of sensitivity/passion/suspicion of the yes campaign is another question on which we can all have different views."

    Well, at the very least it puts a rather different complexion on your airy claim that "both sides felt hard done by".

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  93. James
    Forgive me if any poll stats on the matter have already been covered here, but have any since 18/9 revealed anything about the likely percentages of non-Scots who voted Yes?
    Anecdotally, in my own locality, the isle of lewis, all the English-born working age that I am personally acquainted with voted for Scottish Independence. (We failed to reach a majority for yes in the western isles - without a doubt - because of the exceptionally large over 65 demographic here who only saw and read MSM soundbites, unscrutinised, and swallowed them)

    It would be useful to have an educated approximation of the likely % of AngloYessers, not least to counter the lazy % tiresome "anti-english" accusation which is still being perpetuated.

    Meanwhile, watching BBC parliament today was a mildly interesting experience - devoid of surprises as expected. In fact, there was only one surprise - I found it quite perked me up - as the implications of the self-created quagmire of the BT gang for May 2015 (North & South of the border) began to come into focus.
    The game is still very much alive.

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  94. "Forgive me if any poll stats on the matter have already been covered here, but have any since 18/9 revealed anything about the likely percentages of non-Scots who voted Yes?"

    I'd have to trawl through the YouGov archives to be sure, but I think it was more than 30% in their exit poll. That includes a large number of people born outside the UK, though - the Yes vote was lower among English-born people.

    As far as I can remember Ashcroft didn't ask the country of birth question, so that poll doesn't offer any clues.

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  95. I could not agree with Stoat more. The whole stupid idea should be ditched. They didn't even make any appreciable difference last time (the reviewers all swooned over Clegg for working out where the camera was, and then he ended up winning fewer seats than Charles Kennedy), and they certainly weren't entertaining, so what's the point? Show one of the Thick of It specials instead.

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  96. Hi, I'm Troy McClure, you may remember me from such films as "Stamp my foot up and down" and "You lost, shut up"

    I think it's pretty much nailed on to be a labour win for the GE for no reason other than it's not fighting itself like a piss-smelling tramp, unlike the tories and libdems. A coalition is very unlikely so the need and reason to see Wee Nicky expose her "screaming to get served in a gallowgate bar" style of 'debate' across the UK is somewhat reduced.

    SayNoToYesMen - referendum tipster of the year 2014

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  97. If I didn't know better, there would be times when I'd start to wonder if our old friend Ezio has crossed over to the dark side. Alternatively, of course, you could be John McTernan in disguise - when I went to his "Nostival" talk in the summer, he made a number of jaws drop to the floor by literally "guaranteeing" a Labour government would be elected next spring (as you have just done), while at the same time berating the SNP for "false certainties" about their independence prospectus! You guys could certainly do with taking a long hard look in the mirror one of these days...

    Perhaps start by changing your name - unless of course you still hate 45% of your fellow countrymen and women a whole month after the event.

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  98. SayLoLToTwatMan is as out of touch and clueless as ever.


    Little Ed is less popular in scotland than the incompetent fop Cameron. Little Ed is self-evidently shitting himself that the Blairites are going to start agitating openly against him (yet again) and try to boot him out this time.

    Labour leader Ed Miliband in warning against party 'infighting'


    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/ed-miliband-pleads-with-his-party-to-unite-behind-him-in-preelection-rallying-cry-9792399.html


    "no brainer" McTernan is quite possibly the most spectacularly stupid and inept 'spindoctor' in modern politics. He humiliated himself utterly in Australia but only after humiliating himself and 'scottish' labour thoroughly beforehand. As funny as it would be for him to be making a twat of himself on here I think we can take it as read that SayLolToTwatMan is just another witless tory fuckwit.

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  99. Still obsessed with tories mick :-)

    You're like mccarthy was: communists everywhere, beware the red menace!

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  100. Still too stupid to understand what "Labour leader Ed Miliband in warning against party 'infighting'" means then SayLolToTwatMan. :-)

    You're like an out of touch tory twit desperately trying to deflect from your hilarious ignorance of politics.

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