Monday 21 December 2009

UK Television Election Debates To Go Ahead

It's been confirmed that the UK will have its first ever televised leader election debates after a deal has been struck between the three main party leaders.

I can't pretend I'm happy, I think this development is an anathema to British democracy.

It creates a presidential-like atmosphere in British politics where no president is ever elected.

A popular but inaccurate criticism of Gordon Brown is that he is 'unelected'. It's true that he has no popular mandate via a general election, but no Prime Minister is ever elected directly by the voters. He achieves that position by winning a parliamentary seat, being part of a majority party and then elected by his party as Prime Minister - all of which Brown has done.

The voters do not directly elect Prime Ministers, as they didn't with; Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Douglas Home, Callaghan or Major.

Having leaders' debates is a direct challenge to this, as it reinforces the leaders as the priority and and undermines the principle of voting for a local representative.

Why is Nick Clegg being given equal billing? Labour is the Government, the Tory's are the main opposition, but the Lib Dems are far behind with only 63 seats. Not fair. Especially considering their poor record in the local elections this year and that they came only forth in the Euro elections in June.

As Nick Robinson from the BBC puts it:
Nick Clegg will scarcely be able to believe his luck as the first leader of the third party to share top billing with his big two rivals.

Exactly, and what about the other parties fighting the next election, particularly the SNP who are the major party in Scotland, and currently running Holyrood albeit with a minority administration? Surely a legal challenge must be forthcoming?

And then there's the other parties, such as the DUP, Plaid Cymru or even UKIP who are the main fourth party in the UK and came second in the recent Euro elections?

This process discriminates unfairly against those smaller parties fighting for seats at the next election and entrenches further the main parties in parliament, by virtue of vastly more exposure.

All three of them share the same views on many issues such as; the EU, MPs' expenses and climate change - consensus is never good news - therefore the leaders' debates, in my view, are going to achieve the opposite of their intention; diminish democracy even more in this country.

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