Saturday, 18 October 2014

TV Political Debates; Conundrum or Not?

I’ve watched with interest as the SNP have been once again excluded from the General Election debates.

It’s actually been with a great deal of interest since they effectively won a case in 2010, that judicial review stated it was inappropriate to exclude them.

At the time, the arguments used were marginally credible.

The first statement was that they weren’t a ‘UK’ party, but a regional party. The argument then was that as they only contested seats in Scotland, then they’d no part in a UK wide debate.

The second argument actually held a bit more water, at least until this years’ debacle, sorry debate schedule was announced. Both those arguments are now relatively simple to defeat, but before that, we should examine another aspect of the debates.

No actually, I was correct in the first instance for now it is a debacle of democracy which is designed to perpetuate a two party system. The fact that it’s already been ‘pre-ordained’ that the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties will share a head to head excluding all others, is surely a debacle; it makes a laughing stock of any pretence of democracy.

In a true democratic system, in an honourable one, all prospective candidates would be involved in the first debate in any election. The representation would then be whittled down until only the best two or three candidates remained. For these to be selected in advance by the media shows a system beyond corrupt. For it to be accepted largely without question shows a populace who for the most part is simply apathetic and doesn’t care. The referendum in September was a democratic awakening in Scotland, it shows we now care. And we care a whole lot.

As to rebalancing some of that media and Westminster engendered democratic deficit, especially following on from the judicial review in 2010, surely now with being the third largest party in the current UK, the SNP should have a seat at these debates?

The establishment will still fight to prevent it, because the establishment is about perpetuating the UK. With the SNP as the third largest party, the only argument for the establishment to now fall back upon, and it’d be a delaying tactic only, would be that the SNP aren’t a ‘national, UK wide party’. The ‘nation’ part falls to bits when we consider that Cameron, Miliband and Clegg all went on record last month to declare ‘Of course, Scotland is a nation’. That essentially and defensibly, from their perspective, only leaves the ‘Not a UK wide party’ argument.

The issue for the SNP is that it has a policy of not contesting seats in a GE which are not ‘in Scotland’.

Historically there’s a delicious irony here, for their own policy has gifted their opponents the whip with which to flay the party before the electoral masses.

How and ever, the solution could be achieved easily; and it would leave the opposition in a place somewhere between a quandary and a cleft stick.

Contest the seat held by Alan Beith; namely, the constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Legally, although adopted into the area of Northumberland by statute, the town of Berwick upon Tweed actually belongs to neither country, and we’ve just had that affirmation that we’re both countries.

Legally, the SNP can’t be prevented from doing this, which gives the Westminster cabal one of two options; they can retain their claim that the SNP aren’t actually a ‘UK Party’ and effectively concede that Berwick’s a Scottish town, or they can recognize that with seats being contested south of the current border, the SNP are a UK party, they just have the stated goal of dismantling the UK and returning true power to at least some of her people.

The SNP also have the justifiable stance here of claiming Berwick-upon-Tweed as historically a Scottish town, they can even put hands on hearts and smile with a tongue in cheek attitude as they point to the fact it’s actually internationally recognized as such, nodding in the direction of FIFA and reminding everyone that Berwick Rangers play in the Scottish League.

The fact that much of Northumberland is attached to that seat is rather irrelevant for this exercise; it’s about what the seat’s called.

Scotland’s nationalists don’t have to win the seat, but if handled properly there’s a good chance they could. No, all they have to do is wrong foot the establishment, and an announcement such as this would surely do that, especially as they could rightly point out, that unofficial polls have shown a majority of the townsfolk there would rather see the border moved anyway?


  1. Excellent idea. The SNP really should give that serious consideration.

  2. I'm originally from Berwick-upon-Tweed (Australia now) . As you say, the parliamentary constituency extends southwards to within 20 miles of Newcastle, but don't forget either that we Northumbrians have far more in common with our Scottish cousins than do with remote Westminster. We even boast our own set of bagpipes ! Whilst I can't really see an SNP victory looming in May 2015, I honestly think they could easily get 5% of the vote. Enough to save their deposit. Here's another interesting fact. A TV company did a documentary on the town just a few years back and organized a mock referendum on whether it should revert back to Scotland. The result was a decisive "Yes" !