Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Adding to the UK’s democratic deficit

Douglas Carswell: the first MP from outside the 'Big 3'
What might politely be referred top as the UKIP ‘issue’ has been discussed on this blog before, but after last week’s momentous event, it demands attention once more.

Douglas Carswell was elected as Conservative MP for Clacton in 2010. This August just gone, he defected to UKIP, sparking a by-election, in which he was last week duly returned to Parliament – as a UKIP MP for the constituency of Clacton.

Most importantly, this made him the party’s first MP – such a staggering event that, in the days since, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has been invited to participate in next spring’s pre-election debates between the leaders of the main parties, the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib-Dems.

And all because no other party has ever achieved anything like this: no other party has ever broken through that established trio to gain even a single, solitary seat in the House of Commons.

UKIP’s win last week changes the make-up of the House of Commons out of all recognition, as revealed by this up-to-date (and obviously very brief) list with four entries in it:

Party                              MPs
Conservative                         303
Labour                                  257
Liberal Democrat                    56
Democratic Unionist                8
Scottish National                    6
Sinn Féin                               5
Independent                          3
Plaid Cymru                            3
SDLP                                    3
Alliance                                 1
Green                                   1
Respect                                1
Speaker                                1
UKIP                                     1
Vacant                                  1
Total number of seats            650

The DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr – MP
It’s hard to work out what all the excitement is about. Or, more to the point, if UKIP has produced such a revolutionary result that it deserves its place in pre-election debates, then what about other parties that also have one MP or more?

In the media Establishment’s excitement, it is blatantly favouring one ‘alternative’ party over any and all others.

There is absolutely no logical reason why UKIP should be included in pre-election debates, over and above any other party. If UKIP gets on to the debates, so should all the others.

Anything else has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with a media Establishment that is delighted to promote one particular party and its ideology.

Once again, we see that the bulk of the mainstream UK media is not remotely interested in being part of what could be considered an honourable Fourth Estate, but simply in pushing the personal ideologies of proprietors and editors.

Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew – MP
Some observers are particularly upset with the BBC’s attitude in all this, harking back to some time that never existed.

The BBC may be wonderful in many, many ways, but on politics, it has always been a supporter of the status quo, from the General Strike of 1926 on, when director general Lord Reith made it clear that his idea of ‘impartiality’ in terms of newscoverage by the new broadcaster would not ‘offend’ the Establishment.

If we were really talking about the will of the people – and as discussed previously, the rise of UKIP is reflective of one reaction to a widespread disenchantment with mainstream politics in the UK – then based on the change-everything criteria of UKIP having won a single Parliamentary seat, all alternative voices should be heard.

But of course UKIP has councillors and MEPs too.

Yes: and so do other parties in that list.

The Green Party's Caroline Lucas – MP
If ever you wanted an illustration of the bias in much of the UK’s mainstream media, and of the agenda of its owners, then look no further.

The manner in which it has promoted UKIP – and ignored other alternative parties – would make Reiths version of impartiality look like the real deal.

And good luck to the Green Party, which is considering taking legal action – if it can raise the funds – to challenge this blatant bias.

Perhaps the other parties being disenfranchised in terms of TV election coverage could join them in that endeavor. Now that might be some sort of victory for British democracy.

change.org petition to include the Green Party in any such widened debate (you can add a note that all parties should be included)

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