Sunday, 2 August 2009

The Ego is Wanting a Validictorial Debate

The MP for Banff and Buchan has been telling us he will be stepping down at the next General Election and not even seeking a seat in Westminster. In that sense enough he should not have a place on the platform of a UK-wide debate for the next Westminster election alongside Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Indeed since 2007 that member has had such regard for the Palace of Westminster that he is only beaten with the worst attendance and voting records by the Sinn Fein members.

Yet it is that the leader of the party with the fifth largest representation, yes their seven with a by election win is less than the DUP's 9; yet I don't hear Alex Salmond demanding that Peter Robinson should also have a place on that platform. Indeed at the 2005 General Election they only had one more than Sinn Fein, so should Gerry Adams also warrant a place.

Of course as Caron points out they will be contesting less than 10% of the seats. In fact in 2005 the top numbers of candidates were:

  • Consevative 630
  • Labour/Labour and Co-operative 627
  • Liberal Democrats 626
  • UKIP 496
  • Green 202
  • BNP 119
  • Veritas 66
  • Scottish Nationalist Party 59
  • Scottish Socialist Party 58
  • Socialist Labour Party 49

So he is the leader of the party that only fielded the 8th highest number of candidates. To be honest I see more of an argument for a UKIP representative on that stage as they contested, and will no doubt contest, more than half of the seats.

But of course Alex's Ego is bigger than the reality of the influence of his party on the national stage. Yes they are a major player on the Scottish national stage so I would say that should BBC Scotland run a debate on the Scottish level they should do and include candidates in that election. Therefore on that grounds I wouldn't want to see Tavish Scott, Annabel Goldie or Iain Grey taking the other party positions nor Alex taking the SNP position. It should be a leading party candidate who is actually going to be contesting taking a seat in that election, how else could they answer 'what would you do?' questions upon election if they will not be there.

Notice this statement from an SNP spokesperson:

"Scotland has a long tradition of party leader debates, and it is high time that we had them at UK level for the next General Election. Peter Mandelson has raised the issue again, and although it might have made Gordon Brown choke on his cornflakes when he heard it, the political parties and broadcasters should seize the initiative.

"The broadcasters must meet their obligations to audiences across the UK – and that has to include Alex Salmond's participation in any election debates involving Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

"We are obviously prepared to be flexible about options for the format, but the broadcasters' public service obligations require them to be fair to their audiences in Scotland, and indeed Wales. Both the SNP and Plaid Cymru are now parties of government and our voice must be heard. We will certainly be writing to the broadcasters at an early stage about this issue, so that they can be in no doubt about the position."

It ignores the fact that the DUP and Sinn Fein are also parties of government, as well as the 4 other parties that fielded more candidates across the UK. This stance is a self serving matter of ego. If the SNP were to stand candidates in Tunbridge Wells, Bristol, Liverpool etc they should be a National voice. But as Caron also points out, while California may be the 6th largest economy in the US their head of state Governor Schwarzenegger doesn't warrant a place in the national debate. Let us also not forget that this is the party that designated their candidates 'Alex Salmond for First Minster- SNP' in 2007 as if it was a directly elected American Presidential style position, rather than a constituency and regional election of representatives.


  1. Personally I don't think a TV debate will happen but I do think if it was to be broadcast in Scotland then the SNP ought to be represented.

    The same criteria should apply to Wales and N. Ireland.

  2. Em, Stephen, I think the article says that Salmond is requesting that all the smaller parties take part.....

  3. As I said Subrosa there is a Scottish solution to that.

    And Wardog no, the SNP are not mentioning the other minor parties that is the line that the Scotsman are taking. Although there are criteria for what consitutes national minimums to allow PEB's at election times. The SNP do not meet the UK-Wide Criteria. But do meet the ones set for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as they are considered seperately for those purposes.