Controlled Votes 88


Nationalisation is popular. I mention in every talk I give that a large majority of the population wish to see the railways re-nationalised, but neo-con dominance of the party machines makes sure there is nobody you can vote for, who in our buttoned-down party system might ever get elected, who supports that view. Wings Over Scotland has an opinion poll which shows massive majorities for nationalising both railways and energy companies, with no difference of opinion between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Yet even the SNP does not give the voters any way to assert their view on nationalisation. I am, for the first time, contemplating seriously the advantages of direct democracy.

The latest YouGov poll gives these UK voting attentions:
Conservatives 32% (n/c)
Labour 32% (-2)
UKIP 16% (+1)
Greens 8% (+1)
Liberal Democrats 6% (n/c)
SNP/Plaid Cymru 5% (+1)

There is no doubt that television debates do have a real influence on voting intentions during the election campaign. To include the Liberal Democrats but exclude the Greens and Nationalists is becoming increasingly indefensible – particularly as the SNP looks certain to have an absolute minimum of 20 MPs after the election, and possibly many more. I would put money on there being more SNP than Lib Dem MPs this time next year.

This is about the hard manipulation of power, pure and simple. The fact of the matter is that only the nationalists and the Greens have anything like a radical agenda. It is not just about the broadcasters favouring particular parties as institutions. It is about the broadcasters making sure that even mildly left wing sentiments are not seen as accepted in an establishment forum. They are terrified of letting the voters hear things with which they actually agree.


88 thoughts on “Controlled Votes

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  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    How would you deal with the argument that the Conservatives, Labour, LibDems and Greens are national, pan-UK parties whereas the SNP and Plaid Cymru are not?

    The BBC has many regional divisions – there is BBC Scotland, BBC Ulster and BBC Wales. Would there be merit in staging, alongside the bational debates, “regional” TV debates in Scotland and Wales, where the SNP and Plaid Cymru would be represented by their leaders and the pan-UK parties would put up whoever they deem appropriate (this could be the national party leaders or someone else)?

  • craig Post author

    They don’t stand in Northern Ireland, so they are not national parties either. London-based does not equal national.

  • fool

    Does 60% tax on North Sea oil not in a way imply a sort of quasi nationalisation?

    Plaid & the SNP should certainly feature in regional TV debates and to some extent in the National debate. I appreciate that English voters might not want to hear the Plaid / SNP position, but in wales if you see Plaid only on a local stage you receive a subliminal impression that they are not big stage players. That may be ok for some of their voters, but it kind of skews things. They make appearances on QT and should participate in the

  • Bob Costello

    I do think people are kind of missing an important aspect of this whole question. The SNP are a national party as they have Mp’s in Westminster and therefore the decisions made by them affect the whole of the country therefore it is only fair that people in England Wales and Northern Ireland get to see how they perform and indeed how they are put to task by other parties.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Craig

    “They don’t stand in Northern Ireland, so they are not national parties either. London-based does not equal national.”
    ____________

    Come on, don’t be disengenious!

    1/. Where the parties are headquartered is irrelevant; “national” in the sense that they stand for election in constituencies throughout the UK (save N. Ireland).

    2/. It is true that they don’t stand in N. Ireland, but this is for historical reasons and moreover N. Ireland is a rather small part of the UK. To say, as you do, that the Conservatives (for example) are not a national party because they do not put forward candidates in N. Ireland is a sleight of hand which flies in the face of reality.

  • Abe Rene

    If you really want to exert a lasting political influence, I suggest that you write a book. Out-do Marx, but, and this could be a challenge, without writing anything that would be useful to a future dictator to make a cult of his own personality.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “There is not a single party which has candidates in all four “regions”

    ______________

    Leaving aside N. Ireland, is that true of England, Scotland and Wales? Are you thinking of UKIP (whom I forgot to mention in my first posts)?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “The SNP are a national party as they have Mp’s in Westminster and therefore the decisions made by them affect the whole of the country” (Bob Costello)
    ____________

    That point, on the other hand, has merit.

  • nevermind

    Thanks for that Mary, I absolutely agree with your points about ‘isolationist policies’ above.
    If the SNP is planning to sit and deal with Westminster issues, then they should have policies that deal with devolution of powers to the regions and empowering of voters with the same fair proportionality they enjoy and which is enjoyed in Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

    Selfish policy’s fit with a selfish, party perpetuating system that reigns in Westmionster, so these issue matter as much here, as they did anywhere else.
    Looking at the local waste of money by politicians who can barely string two sentences together, I don’t wish to give them more powers unless voters are empowered to select their representatives fairly, a deregulation of powers that does not include empowering voters is a further erosion of local public services imho.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Another point perhaps worth mentioning is the following:

    It could be argued that staging regional debates in Scotland and Wales would take no account of the fact that many Scots and Welshmen live in England and that they would not be able to watch regional debates staged in Scotland and Wales by BBC Scotland and BBC Wales.

    But this takes no account of the fact that in the UK – as opposed to the system in some Continental countries – people are registered as voters in the consituency where they actually live and not where they were born or where they lived before.

  • Kenny

    The problem with the “additional debates” model is that it means Sturgeon (or Hosie or Robertson or someone else) debating with someone like Willie Rennie who, in a Westminster context, is an utter nonentity. She is the leader of her party and as such, should be facing Cameron and Miliband. It also means that she is treated as a “regional” figure rather than a “national” one, which is a powerful subliminal shot at the central policy of her party. And in purely democratic terms, without a complete Scottish opt-out from “national” news, QT, Newsnight etc., there will always be disproportionate coverage of English-British parties, including major party status for UKIP, even though Ofcom have ruled that they’re NOT a major party in Scotland.

    It’s a circle that can’t and won’t be squared. We just have to make sure to use it as a campaigning issue.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “Thanks for that Mary, I absolutely agree with your points…etc”
    ______________

    I see no comments from Mary. Where are they?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Kenny

    I did say, though, that the national parties would be free to put up whoever they wished. If they thought it worthwhile or important enough there is no reason why they should not put up their national leaders, surely.

    Actually, I wouldn’t have thought that the SNP would suffer if, say, the Labour Party put up a nonentity to debate against Mrs Sturgeon.

  • nevermind

    The Green Party, although due to registration and their decentralisation of powers policy they have to give themselves a different name, are standing in all four regions.

    They are a far more progressive party than any of them as they are a global movement that has representation in 59 countries, so I believe.

    The Greens are the only radical Party in my view, as the SNP in comparison is rather selfish in their aims, somewhat insular it has no appeal to others or plans to develop any other policies improving relations with other parts in England. Their dalliances with Plaid Cymru are more designed around Independence, which has been duly ignored and suppressed for the GE, so, no, there is nothing policy wise, bar better deals for Scotland.

    Another point, sustainability is not the measure of its policies, which, for an up and coming party should be de rigueur for a modern political party, especially when the limitations to growth and the impact of fossil fuels, are lapping the shores of Aberdeen.

  • nevermind

    Oh dear, must get some new specs. For one minute I saw the wrong avatar, please forgive my eyesight Mary, I shall procrastinate myself in the broom cupboard forthwith.

    Its the valid point I commented to, not it.

  • nevermind

    Those who can’t even mention the Green party by name, even when OFCUM solely spoke about them, are frit of their policies and manifesto.

    Labour has lost thousands of activists/voters to the Green Party, they are most frit of all to debate with them, hence Ed’s grinning teeth and lamentations of chicken, diverting their Angst to the Tories.

    The BBC, usually ready to organise these debates, has given the gavel to OFCUM, who ‘;s yardstick is tainted by its dependency on taxpayers money, nothing Independent about them. The silence emanating from the electoral Commission is palpable, they are in a similar dependency relationship with the main parties/system.
    Gosh three in a row, I must get into the garden.

  • Clark

    There are four regions but only three regional governments, the fourth being combined with the national government. If you presented such a system of regulation to an engineer she’d say it was non-linear, prone to unpredictable behaviour and thus impossible to adjust reliably. The whole system is unbalanced and needs reform.

    Westminster should become the regional assembly of England. A new seat of national government should be set up somewhere more central and preferably rather isolated. The Sellafield nuclear site seems about ideal.

  • Vronsky

    “I am, for the first time, contemplating seriously the advantages of direct democracy.”

    So maybe Vronsky isn’t so crazy when he argues for a parliament elected by sortition?

  • Vronsky

    PS: You should see my draft constitution for an SNP branch – term-limited office-bearers, and delegates selected by sortition. It wil become the constitution of at least one branch in Scotland. Promise!

  • jbond

    I’m not at all convinced that the SNP taking part in the TV debates is good for the SNP or will result in more votes and elected MPs for them. I rather suspect that it might actually harm them. In which case pushing for inclusion might be bad tactics unless it’s a general spoiler that won’t be followed.

    By contrast, giving UKIP some more rope might not be a bad thing as long as you’ve got a convenient tree and a car to tie the rope to.

  • OldMark

    ‘I would put money on there being more SNP than Lib Dem MPs this time next year.’

    So would I; I’d also put money on the DUP and Sinn Fein getting more MPs this May than Plaid, which rather scuppers the argument that all the ‘nationalist’ parties should have a seat in the national TV pre-election debates.

    ‘Labour has lost thousands of activists/voters to the Green Party, they are most frit of all to debate with them, hence Ed’s grinning teeth and lamentations of chicken, diverting their Angst to the Tories.’

    ‘Westminster should become the regional assembly of England. A new seat of national government should be set up somewhere more central and preferably rather isolated. The Sellafield nuclear site seems about ideal.’

    Excellent points from Nevermind and Clark respectively- although as an interim measure the ‘national’ government could sit in the House of Lords chamber (so much grander than the HoC) ,after the current incumbents have been sent packing.

  • bevin

    If the Greens were to highlight their commitment to re-nationalisation of the railways and power companies and to promise to make those policies minimal demands in post election negotiations with other parties, they could win dozens of seats.

    It is good to see the blog being used to introduce new words: ‘disingenious’ is catchy, all we need to know now is what it means. Perhaps ‘Habbabkuk’ could break the habits of a lifetime and enlighten us

  • Republicofscotland

    Its is quite astonishing to think that the third largest political party in the UK (membership wise) which is bigger than UKIP and the Lib/Dems combined, now won’t have any representation on live national TV GE political debates.

    Yet David Cameron has recently been bleating of the travesty, of not having the Green Party included in the TV debates.

    Of course David Cameron will say just about anything to avoid debating, as an incumbent treats this disruptive process as his prerogative.

    How Ofcom can exclude the SNP yet include UKIP from the live TV GE debates is beyond comprehension, if Graham Howell the head of Ofcom pulls this one off, he must surely be in line for a seat in the House of Lords.

    The Perfidious Albion, will live up to its reputation if it excludes the SNP the Greens and Plaid Cymru.

    The undemocratic process of not having access to the live TV debates, will affect the parties UK ratings.

  • Mary

    You can come out of the broom cupboard Nevermind. 🙂 There is no need for apologies.

    ~~~

    PS Craig may be a ‘genius’ but he is not being
    ‘disengenious’ disingenuous. Ha!

  • Tony M

    Not even all parts of Scotland get the Scotland only debates. The Borders until the launch of Channel 4 in 1983 received both Border TV and Scottish TV (STV), since then they only get Border TV (plus Channel 4), covering a large swathe of Northern England from Durham to Carlisle and the Isle of Man, with no Scottish content whatever.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Craig

    I’d move on to the next thread sharpish if I were you, this one’s running out of puff already.

    Obvious why, really : your subject offers little scope for

    – conspiracy theories
    – condemning Israel, the US and the West in general
    – praising and excusing Russia
    – talking about “fascists” in Ukraine
    – rehearsing arguments about the Scottish referendum and the Scots in general
    – expressing sympathy for Islam and Islamic extremists.

    To which we should add that I have been very polite – so no one can deviate by attacking me or accusing me of trolling – and have provided input to which only one commenter was intelligent enough to be able to respond.

    You know what you have to do, Craig!

  • nevermind

    sorry o/t but very relevant to our election and NATO’s aggressive expansion to the east. A very interesting interview with a very ill Mr. Perestroika Gorbatchov.

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