Thursday, 22 January 2015

All parties will be invited to the election debates in Ponteland, Prudhoe and Hexham and that is right

I will be debating All political opponents at the coming general election with a series of debates in Hexham, Prudhoe, Ponteland and beyond. This is what happened last time, when everyone from Labour, Liberals and even Steve Ford, who ran as an independent, came to the debates in Hexham Abbey, the High School and in Prudhoe Church. We had a No Show from the BNP man, and Colin Moss, the Hexham artist, only entered the contest at the very last moment barely a few weeks before the election.

2010 Result:
Conservative: 18795 (43.2%)

Lib Dem: 13007 (29.9%)
Labour: 8253 (19%)
BNP: 1205 (2.8%)
Independent: 1974 (4.5%)
Colin Moss: 249 (0.6%)

Much has been made of the refusal by the broadcasters to invite the Greens and SNP to the possible TV debates. There is a problem with this in my view.
There is a good case for a debate between:
i) the only two possible Prime Ministers post May = a Cameron v Miliband debate.
ii) A debate between all the political parties: - this in my view has to include the SNP, and the Green Party, as the SNP, in particular, may hold the balance of power. On present polls they win most of Scotland. I do not think that will happen, but those are the polls. There is even an outside chance that we in the Hexham constituency may have a SNP candidate - they tried to get a candidate last month for Berwick.
And it is crucial to know if the SNP, and other non English elected representatives, propose to hold the rest of the country to ransom by voting on matters that are not part of their capabilities eg health and transport. The Scottish health budget is devolved in its entirety. And yet Scottish MPs tell the rest of the UK how our budgets and laws should be - whilst I, as an English MP have no say over these devolved budgets decided in Scotland's parliament.

What I suspect will happen is that all major political parties including the Greens will thus be invited to take part in the multi-party debate. Although I hate the SNP divisive approach (they are MacUkip in reality) I do want to know what they would do. 
As the columnist Iain Dale puts it: "It’s actually the broadcasters’ own fault. They should have set up a formal Debates Commission after the election, which could have solved all these problems independently of the political parties and broadcasters. One must be set up later this year so that we don’t have these squabbles next time around."