The Rochester By-Election further destroys the intellectual case for the BBC’s decision that only male party leaders who support Trident can debate on TV before the UK general election.
The Greens got five times as many votes as the Lib Dems in Rochester, and are ahead of them in several recent national opinion polls. I do not posit the support of Trident as the criterion for inclusion, in any sense as a joke. Support of Trident stands as a good marker for adhesion to the neo-con establishment consensus. The establishment is simply not prepared for more radical views to be put before the public as a serious choice. UKIP is the chosen right wing vehicle into which disillusion with politicians should be channelled.
The BBC justification for including UKIP is that they have shown a “substantial increase in electoral support”, and the BBC argue that the Greens have not done so. There are two major problems with this argument.
The first is that UKIP’s “massive increase in electoral support” has been massively boosted by a huge amount of publicity given to UKIP for the last two years, especially by the BBC. The BBC is citing the effect of its own propaganda as justification for continuing that propaganda. If the Greens had been given as much publicity as UKIP, the electoral climate would be very different.
The second is that this appears to be a one way argument. If UKIP’s massive increase in electoral support can get them included, surely the Lib Dems total collapse in electoral support should get them excluded? The injustice of including the Lib Dems and not the Greens, when the Greens are beating them not just in opinion polls but in real polls, cannot simply be brushed aside.
We then have the SNP. There is a very real possibility that the SNP will have more MPs than the Lib Dems after the next election. Indeed, one recent opinion poll put them ahead of the Lib Dems in polling across the entire UK, even though all those SNP voters were just in Scotland. For the BBC to push so hard the line that we are “Better Together”, and then exclude the party supported by the plurality of Scots from UK debate, is an irony only the BBC cannot see. That some viewers of a UK debate would have no opportunity to vote SNP, would not remove their very real interest in understanding and questioning the views of what will be a major component of the parliament which governs them.
The Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP have female leaders and are anti-Trident, a symbol of their broad radicalism. All are, to use that crude measure, to the left of the parties which will be included. To be in, you have to be led by an identikit posh male and support Trident. That is the BBC test.