Friday, May 28, 2021

Parliamentary petition for a Scottish Eurovision entry, Take 2: updated

UPDATE: Thanks again for your help - the five signatures necessary for the petition to be checked for publication have been received.  No more signatures can be accepted while it's still being checked, so I've removed the links below, and I'll keep you updated.

Unsurprisingly, the UK Parliament petitions website have rejected my proposal for a petition calling for a Scottish Eurovision entry, but what did surprise me was that they took the trouble to give me specific reasons for the rejection.  That gives me the opportunity to make a second attempt using new wording that removes any basis for their objections.  I'm not going to go round in circles with this forever, but I think it's worth having at least one more go - either the petition will be approved this time, or they'll come back with a whole series of new objections which will leave little room for doubt that they're not acting in good faith.

The main issue they identified is that under the BBC Charter, the government cannot interfere with BBC managerial independence - but there's more than a touch of sophistry in that line of argument, because petitions on the website can call on either parliament or the government to take action, and it should have been abundantly clear from my deliberate use of the word "legislate" that it was parliament I had in mind, and not the government.  Under the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, parliament has unlimited power to undo or change legislation governing the BBC as it sees fit.  I've made that point explicit rather than implicit in the new petition wording.  

There was also a reference in the rejection to Eurovision being a matter for the BBC "and the organisers", so to avoid the European Broadcasting Union's jurisdiction being the next excuse, I've made clear that a Scottish entry should merely be a condition of any BBC involvement in the contest.  (In the real world it's highly unlikely the EBU would resist any proposal for a Scottish entry from the BBC, which is one of the contest's major funders.) 

The main problem with having to waste space on these legalistic clarifications is that there's a strict character limit, which hasn't left me much room to actually make the case for a Scottish Eurovision entry, which after all is what the petition is actually about.  However, there wasn't really much option if I wanted any chance of the petition being approved.  To get it checked for publication, I'll need at least five people to sign once again.

Petition title: Reform the BBC Charter to open the way for a Scottish entry at the Eurovision 

What is being requested: The UK Parliament has unlimited legislative powers on domestic matters, including the power to alter or revoke the BBC Charter, and even to disregard the principle of BBC managerial independence if it so chooses. It should use those vast powers to maximise the chances of a Scottish Eurovision entry. 

More details: The UK Parliament boasts of its unlimited sovereignty on domestic affairs, including for example the ability to unilaterally change the Scottish devolution settlement without Scotland's consent. There can therefore be no credible dispute that parliamentary sovereignty extends to legislation governing the BBC. That legislation should be reformed to require the BBC to make separate Scottish representation a condition of any BBC involvement with cultural competitions such as the Eurovision. 

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