I’m pissed. Not in an alcoholic way for I am still tee-total but in a more angry sense. As I’ve gotten older I believe I’ve become wiser to the world around me. I’ve become more critical of decisions and rather than take them at face-value, tried to look behind the headline to see what the real situation is.
That happened once more again today when I was thinking about the Lib Dems and SNP’s bid at the High Court to get into tomorrow nights ITV debate. The media company have invited the leaders of the Labour Party and the Conservative Party to tell the public why they should be the next Prime Minister. ITV have done this for one of two reasons, one is that they believe that only these two men can get that job or two, that was the only circumstance in which these two men would appear. They knew from 2010 that giving the Lib Dems a platform was potentially an issue.
I surmised to myself that I bet ITV would postpone the debate if Swinson forced to be included because they knew that one or both of the leaders wouldn’t want to share a platform with her. This thought was confirmed in the last line of The Guardian’s write-up of the proceedings:
‘ITV told the court that if the legal challenges succeeded they would postpone Tuesday evening’s election debate.’
So there we have it. ITV made it clear it was Boris v Jeremy or no debate at all. Surely that just sucks and all it does it help keep the two big boys at the top of the tree. This isn’t the America’s Cup where only one boat can challenge the defending champion for victory, this is politics where people should be able to choose who they vote for and public broadcasters shouldn’t get to shape the debate.
Do I think everyone should get a seat at the table? No because as we’ve seen before that actually is no good for anyone. What needs to happen is there be actual procedures in place to decide who gets to stand up on the public airwaves and give us their pitch. Whether that is an average of polls over the past few months or amount of councillors or what, I’ll leave that to other people but for a national party who are fielding enough candidates to win and who are polling in the mid to high teens to be kept out shows the company up for what they are – scared of the bully boys who want to get their own way.
I even think that if Nigel Farage hadn’t of bottled it and stood down his candidates in 317 seats then he should’ve been invited. The Brexit Party won the European elections just six months ago and have been polling in the teens until very recently. So this isn’t just a Lib Dem thing, it is a democracy thing. If ITV and the BBC can only get a debate of Conservatives v Labour then they’ll take it because that is better than nothing in their eyes but in terms of fairness, its a crock of shit.
This is why Sky News should get some appreciation. They didn’t negotiate with Labour and the Tories, they just said we want a three-way debate and here is the date. It forces them to choose whether or not to turn up. Whereas the BBC and ITV just took what they could get. Seeing our public broadcasters acting so scared of the two major parties is depressing to see.
I can understand why Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson are scared of being on a stage with Jo Swinson. They know it’ll legitimise the Lib Dems in the eyes of millions of voters who at the moment are less than enthused by the leaders of the two main parties. Allowing them to pick and choose the time, place and how they debate though gives them all the power and shouldn’t the media be holding them to account rather than be a puppet on their string?
ITV and the BBC have shown the electorate that their number one priority isn’t to give everyone a fair crack of the whip. They just want the inventory. They are playing a huge role in shaping the future of this country and I have no doubt some people there will love that feeling. Others no doubt will be feeling remorseful that they are part of stifling free debate.
Tomorrow night millions will tune into ‘Johnson v Corbyn: The ITV Debate’ and get the feeling that they are the only two players in town. It is a massive leg up for both men against others and is that fair? Some will say that no-one else can form a government so who needs to hear from them but if you keep the other parties quiet then they’ll never make it. Justin Trudeau came from third to win just a few years ago, Emmanuel Macron formed a new party and won just a couple of years back. Change can happen in politics, certainly in volatile times but as long as the media are scared of the incumbents big boys, change ain’t gonna come.
Grump, grump, grump…
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