On ‘The Politics Show’ on Sunday UKIP Leader Nigel Farage believed that UKIP deserved a place in any General Election leadership debate. According to Iain Dale, both Farage and Alex Salmond (SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister), are contemplating legal action in order to recieving a platform.
Farage believe’s that because UKIP were the second party from June’s European Elections he deserved a platform alongside Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Dale’s argument is that because UKIP are not represented at every level across the UK and in every region then they do not deserve a place amongst the big three.
I believe there is a fairer alternative. The BBC have the good graces of having regional stations and regional programmes, such as the ‘Politics Show South East.’ In the interests of fairness- and plurality- would it not make sense for party debates (not necessarily with leaders) to be televised amongst the constituents in a region where a party has representation either at Westminster, in the European Parliament or either in the Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly? I think it would.
I am aware that this system would give a platform to the BNP, however it looks certain that the BBC will go ahead with their ‘Question Time’ panel with Nick Griffin. It would also mean that Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Greens (both in England and Wales and in Scotland) can go head-to-head with their political rivals. Whilst it is by no means a perfect system as it grants a platform to the BNP, it is fair from a liberal democratic perspective. It also means that genuine progressives such as the Greens, Plaid and to some extent the SNP can have a platform in front of their constituents without sharing it with the BNP. Thus avoiding being clumped in the same camp of ‘others’ along with the far-right organisation.
It also means that people can protest in any way they want against the BNP having a platform, and I fully support this right of protest from anyone who disagrees with anti-democratic organisations being granted a platform. So, whilst I believe the state cannot intervene to prevent the BNP having a platform, I believe members of the public can, and that the state should not intervene in preventing members of the public from doing so. It is a balancing act but one where by which the state should remain blind, after all, it is the actions of the state that create the conditions for far-right tendencies to simmer and then boil.
Now you can’t say that isn’t fair.