Sunday, November 10, 2019

A question for the BBC and Sky

It's a very simple question: what will happen if, as seems highly likely, one of the "candidates" (sic) in your "Prime Ministerial Debates" (sic) uses the platform you have given them to make an attack on Nicola Sturgeon's plan for a second independence referendum?  Because of the rigged nature of the debates, Ms Sturgeon will have no right of reply within the programme, and unlike ITV you don't appear to have any plans for an interview-based programme afterwards to give excluded parties a chance to respond.  So what will you do?  Will you immediately tell Boris Johnson to stop speaking or to change the subject?  Will you hurriedly clear your schedules afterwards to give Ms Sturgeon the appropriate number of minutes to reply?

This is a question well worth asking, because many years ago ITV were successfully challenged in the Scottish courts after they broadcast an "Ask The Prime Minister" programme featuring Tony Blair in the midst of a Scottish parliamentary by-election.  The judge ruled that parts of the programme had been legitimate because they related to Mr Blair's role as Prime Minister, but that other parts were clearly party political and that other parties had been denied a right of reply of equivalent length and prominence.  STV were therefore required to broadcast a programme before the by-election giving remedial time to other parties.  If memory serves me right, it was presented by Bernard Ponsonby and featured the likes of Charles Kennedy and John Swinney.  So if the SNP are left with no option but to go to the courts, it might be worth placing particular emphasis on the likelihood of Scottish issues being mentioned during the rigged debates.

Oh, and a small hint for the broadcasters: no, the SNP's participation in separate Scottish debates does not provide the necessary balance, because the Conservatives and Labour will also be included in those Scottish debates.  The only thing that can possibly balance out a programme excluding the SNP is an equally prominent programme excluding the Tories and Labour (and also the Liberal Democrats in the case of Sky).

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Do you ever get the feeling you're being gaslighted?  The Guardian claimed yesterday that the BBC were planning to "host a traditional head-to-head debate between the prime minister and Labour leader on 6 December".  How can it be "traditional" when it has never happened before?  There has never been a two-way leaders' debate in the history of British general elections.  Never.  There were three-way debates in 2010, and multi-party debates in 2015 and 2017 (albeit Theresa May refused to participate in the latter).

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45 comments:

  1. The broadcasters will no doubt attempt to redeem themselves by coming up with a party leaders debate in Scotland in the hope that satisfies the natives, but of course folk have noticed now that is a con to have the First Minister and leader of the SNP debating with the branch managers of the main parties in England instead of the leaders of those parties as she is the leader of her party

    Either Scotland is in the UK or it is not, the broadcasters keep changing the narrative by using the excuse the SNP are a soley Scottish party which really doesn't wash at all when the last three years have been about deals with the DUP who are a Northern Irish party, so you can't have it both ways by claiming Scotland isn't British one minute when it doesn't suit then claiming it is the next when it does

    As in all things when dealing with *British* establishments rules are changed and words are inserted to create difference when what they really want to say is

    *We don't want Scotland interfering in our English election*

    BTW that applies to Wales also, have we heard from them? of course not because they don't count either

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  2. The broadcasters have said the debates will be between Johnson and Corbyn because one or other will become PM.

    That is a specious argument because, from the 1950s onwards, we have had one PM after another who did not complete their full term in office.

    Churchill/Eden albeit he handed over to Eden a month or so before an election. Then McMillan/Sir Alec Douglas Hume; Wilson/Callaghan;
    Thatcher/Major; Blair/Brown; Cameron/May; May/Johnson. Some may have completed more than one term in office before giving up mid-term.

    So basically when we vote we have no idea who will ultimately complete the term in office - pig in a poke territory.

    So temporary or what?

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  3. The PRIME Minister is all the PM is - he or she is not a president so the argument used by TV companies is nonsense and irrelevant. If it was a celebrity boxing match that's different - we could have the PM and Leader of the Opposition appoint others to fight for them. I would have a Gove versus Watson to see who could stab the other in the back first.

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  4. There are maybe three reasons for excluding the SNP and other parties.

    First is that they feel the SNP presence will bore the viewers, as they go off banging on about the independence and the Barnett formula that don't interest most of the viewers. Not good TV.

    Second is that that if they let in the SNP, they may have to let in Plaid, and then the Greens, and the Brexit party.... and so the DUP... and so all the other NI parties. Messy.

    The third reason is unattractive to contemplate: that they wish to suppress the views of those excluded parties. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume this is does not apply.

    So: how about they have extended leaders' debates, where they do a UK (or GB) version, where they are only allowed to talk of UK manifesto issues. That part could be, say, 40 minutes. At this point, viewers in England cut to the spin room.

    Meanwhile, the debate continues, with a Scottish section, for maybe 10 minutes. Seeing NS head to head with BJ, JC & JS should be electrifying. In Scotland it could well be the most eagerly anticipated part: good TV. It is a WM election so there is no excuse for NS having to debate the Scottish party leaders. And it would be clean-cut - just 4 leaders. So that would solve the "messy" and "bad TV" problems at a stroke.

    Also, the other excluded parties (Brexit etc could not object any more than they currently do, as they are already excluded)

    Then they could move on to do a final 10 minutes for Plaid Cymru, on a similar basis. Or if they wanted they could put the two slots together, as some of the arguments could cover the same ground.

    For the viewer, it would be seamless viewing for the Scottish (Welsh) audience, who would just miss 10 minutes of spin room spin.

    For the broadcaster, no need to hire a separate studio and market separately - get it all done in one go. I am sure the leaders of SNP and PC would not mind turning up for those 10 minutes.

    The broadcasters could surely not object to that
    (unless the third motive above was in play!)





    The

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    1. The real reason this is happening is because Boris Johnson refuses to take part in debates from which the Lib Dems and SNP aren't excluded, and the broadcasters would much rather have a rigged debate that includes him than a fair debate that doesn't. It's the prioritisation of ratings over democracy, and will allow any future Prime Minister to hold the broadcasters to ransom in future elections.

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    2. The broadcasters must then, after all, be pressured. Either by attempting to come up with alternative formats that are in principle workable, that puts pressure on BJ to comply, or else by other means. For example, any sort of protest or boycott of those organisations?

      My concern is that the online debate is full of people complaining about things to each other but we need positive alternative suggestions of actions that will have an effect in the world.

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    3. Which falsely implies that there is no positive alternative suggestion in this case. Everyone knows what the solution is, and it's exactly what was done in 2015. A seven-way debate featuring Johnson, Corbyn, Sturgeon, Swinson, Farage, Price and one of the Green co-leaders. If any of the above does not wish to take part, they are empty-chaired. Simple, easy to understand, scrupulously fair to everyone. Not Boris Johnson's preferred option? Who cares.

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    4. Sorry I don't understand why you are saying "falsely". I genuinely did not notice mention of a seven way debate being proposed here, and I was not aware it was a solution that everyone knew of, nor if it is being suggested upon broadcasters. Will be glad to hear more of it though.

      BTW my reference to "the online debate" is referring to online websites in general and the text therein - the majority of which (by volume of words) is by below the line commentators (including myself) arguing about things but not necessarily generating actual actions we could do about it. So for avoidance of doubt I was not having a dig at anyone in particular here.

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    5. I would have thought it was pretty obvious that if I am saying that certain parties should not be excluded, I am therefore suggesting that they should be included. Given the clear precedents that exist from both 2015 and 2017, there is no need for all these convoluted suggestions about only including certain parties for a certain number of minutes, or having England-only opt-outs. Just include everyone on an equal basis. If it was good enough in 2015, it's good enough in 2019.

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    6. I interpreted your blog post as a challenge with questions to the broadcasters. I was simply suggesting a possible answer or solution.

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    7. My challenge to the broadcasters was "if YOU are hellbent on running a rigged debate, how do YOU propose to solve an obvious problem that YOU have created?" I wasn't in any way encouraging them to go ahead with a rigged debate.

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  5. p.s. Maybe the UK leaders could get a short break after 40 minutes, at which point NS and AP go live and get to at least answer the questions that the others had been discussing, so that they *are* allowed to comment on truly national issues be they Brexit or nuclear weapons.

    Then the UK leaders rejoin, and get the right to reply to reply if they wish, or move on to Scottish issues.

    The point is (I am not a TV producer!) there must surely be *some* way to devise a format that respects the different parts of the country who are going head to head, and if national broadcasters cannot accommodate that then they are not fit to be national broadcasters.

    (For Northern Ireland I don't have a solution, if the Conservatives are standing there? - BJ could be required to do an extra 10 minutes to represent his party there. Then the other GB leaders would not get a look in but they may just need to face the facts they don't run candidates there. Just as the SNP doesn't in Wales, for example. But they might be happy to sit it out and let BJ explain himself to the people of NI)

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  6. In the TV debates Knickerless should be given the first half hour tae bump her gums then given the last half hour to wind down. The rest five minutes each.

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    1. I'd bump your gums off a pavement kid

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    2. You sound like the David Francis muppet.

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  7. Nicola Sturgeon is a UK leader, Scotland is still a country in the UK and she is the leader of it and during this general election Nicola Sturgeon is in fact the only elected leader of a government in the UK apart from in Wales, but he's still just a Labour branch manager

    Johnson and Corbyn are candidates

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    1. Knickerless was not elected leader by the people only her party. They will ditch her once brexit occurs.

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    2. Except...

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-36300892

      Nicola Sturgeon wins Scottish first minister vote

      Nicola Sturgeon is to be reappointed as first minister of Scotland after she was backed for the job by MSPs.

      Ms Sturgeon's SNP won its third consecutive Holyrood election on 5 May, but finished two seats short of an overall majority.

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    3. Except.. She was not voted for FM by the people.

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    4. She was elected FM by the people in 2016, thick lad.

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    5. I do not recall being offered a vote to elect the sad moaning bitter anti English woman. She does not speak for the majority of Scots.

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    6. It was your fault if you didn't bother voting in the 2016 election. Or you voted SNP.

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    7. And it's the English government that has a deep racist hatred for Scotland. Everyone sees that now, what with Scots being the only UK nation not get the brexit deal they wants + be denied the right to vote.

      Loads of unionists I know are saying this.

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    8. That's not by design, there's no way Wales would have been offered a bespoke deal if they voted remain.

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    9. Yes, the deep racist hatred extends to the Welsh as you say.

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  8. Labour is a regional party.

    It does not stand across the UK.

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    1. Mind you, given brexit will mean NI beginning its own NIxit / Reunifexit, maybe Labour will finally become non-regional.

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  9. Maybe in future Scottish election debates the tories and libs should be excluded as we've always had Labour or snp fms?

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    1. Bring back Eck before he is put in the nick.

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    2. You're a real cowardly little slimeshit with no life aren't you

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    3. You must be in contact with the dead then.

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    4. The Scottish Labour Party came to my door canvassing today, so it seems like I AM in contact with the dead.

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    5. GWC uses a Weegie Board.

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  10. Feel the brexit union lurve.

    https://twitter.com/Coburn4Brexit/status/1193822686612533248

    @Coburn4Brexit

    I am sick and tired of Scotland being ignored and sidelined within @brexitparty_uk and i no longer have to keep quiet. If necessary i will campaign against @brexitparty_uk in Scotland to preserve the Union

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    1. No Brexit candidate to stand in Tory-held seats. But I wonder if there'll be more bargaining in order to give the Tories a clear run at their 16 targets in the English West Midlands and others?

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    2. Arise, Lord Farage of Strasbourg

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  11. My grandparents, like many Scots, fought in the war so that Scots, and peoples across the world, could have a Section 30 if they voted for one.

    It's revolting to see Johnson laying a wreath while spitting in the faces of those that fought and died for free democracy.

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  12. I see the pro-indy parties in Catalonia just got a record win; the highest number of seats ever in a Spain-wide GE.

    Maybe Boris can arrest a few Scottish politicians ahead of the GE to boost the SNP vote. That or at least keep saying the English won't allow the Scots a referendum.

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  13. Weekly subsample tracker is a joy.

    SNP 37
    CON 25
    LAB 17
    LD 12
    BXP 6
    GRN 4

    One thing I forgot is that the less prolific pollsters are now dumping weekly polls. So Deltapoll had Labour on 30 and BMG had the Tories ahead of the SNP. So I might have to consider this.

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    1. Statistically, if you want to be accurate, you should only include pollsters that have subsamples which, when averaged out (i.e. compiled to give large samples), give results within +/-3% of full Scottish polling averages / matched the last GE result well.

      If a pollster is getting the Tories ahead of the SNP on a regular basis, then you need to exclude them. It would be statistical good practice to do so. It makes no sense to include datasets which are clearly wrong.

      They use different methodologies / panels which may be partly or completely unweighted to Scotland. As a result, some Scots subsamples will just be literally meaningless tripe (like the BMG you quote). Others, on average, may be closer to the mark. Those that have subsamples a bit higher / then a bit lower...than what Scottish polling gives, are the ones to include.

      It is not good practice to include rubbish data. Even if you are trying to be conservative.

      Of course it's up to you! :-)

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    2. This was my PoP 2017 GE prediction:
      36(-1)% SNP
      28(-1)% Con
      26(-1)% Lab
      6(-1)% Lib

      1% lower on all, which can be attributed to the fact on the day, the few % for minor parties doesn't pan out that way.

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    3. You make a good point. I looked at the average subsamples for each company v the national polls for the pre-campaign period. YouGov was closest but being virtue as the most prolific poster, then Survation, then IpsosMori and ComRes all under 2.5 error. Deltapoll actually snuck in at under 3 points error but everything else was over 3 points.

      In that case only YouGov has polled this past week. Including Deltapoll would give SNP 39 CON 21 LAB 17 LD 12, which is less out of line with the national polls.

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  14. Well, if you are left wing brexit supporter, then you should obviously not vote Farage, who has just made it official that the Brexit party are hard right Tories.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50377396

    Just in case you hadn't worked that out already.

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    1. A fair degree of resignation on the Guardian board. But YouGov has put out this qualifier:

      "Farage’s decision to stand aside in current Conservative-held seats and not in Labour-held seats that the Tories will be looking to gain will likely make very little difference. There are three caveats to this. Firstly, whilst there has been a swing towards the Tories in their battle against Labour, the increase in Lib Dem and SNP vote share means that there is likely to be a swing against them in seats where they are battling against those parties. However, there are not as many of these seats as there are Labour/Conservative marginals, and most of them will be the kind of places where the Brexit party wouldn’t have won many votes anyway, such as in Scotland or more remain-leaning seats in the south.

      Secondly, it does help mitigate against the effects of a surge in support for Labour during this campaign. If the Labour vote share does start to recover, in the same way it did in 2017, this will make it more difficult for the party to start gaining seats from the Tories. However, on current polling it will take quite a turnaround of Jeremy Corbyn’s fortunes in order to reach this point. Finally, whilst the practical effect might be quite small, we don’t know what effect Farage’s message might have on the broader perceptions of the parties. It could be that even in seats where the Brexit party are standing, voters that might otherwise have supported the party now feel more comfortable voting Conservative after Farage’s comments.

      However given the Brexit party was already trending downwards in the polls, it looked like this was happening already. So, despite today’s drama, this is unlikely to be a game-changing moment."

      -----------------------------

      The Tories are going to lose seats, not just in Scotland, so you could say that they need to "equalise first". Hence I wonder if a few of the top BxP candidates will be given a free run if exchange for vacating a few dozen Tory target seats.

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  15. WE SHOULD FUCK. Like right now, right here. Hard, fast. Pin me down, kiss me hard, look me in the eyes and fuck me like you’ve never fucked someone before. Hey, i am looking for an online sexual partner ;) Click on my boobs if you are interested (. )( .)

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