TV Debates & the Right of Refusal

Ed Miliband, the democratic socialist, is very upset. He is unhappy with our Prime Minister. The anger is understandable really. David Cameron has morphed from being an evangelist for party leader debates in GE2010 to all but scuppering them in GE2015. The key difference dear friends is that prior till now, he wasn’t the man in government.

Power has an amazing ability to alter ones perceptions.

However the bigger flashing light alarming this Scottish liberal mindset was Ed Miliband proposed solution. Red Ed proposed to pass a law to compel incumbent Pms to debate live on TV.

This raises a number of questions in the thinking mind, but chief amongst them: How will he force party leaders to obey?

Does Ed seriously plan on arresting incumbent PM’s who dislike the idea of boiling a parliamentary electoral system down to a soundbite TV clash? The very possibility is chilling to a liberal of whatever party allegiences (or none).

Besides, surely the right to decline is a key element in a functioning democratic system? Candidates and voters surely must have the right of refusal. The ordinary voter has the right to spoil their ballot or decline to vote. Thereby registering their distain or percieved of lack of choice with the system. Likewise a candidate standing for election should have the right to control when and where they speak, campaign.

To me that is all very straight forward and simple.

And I’m not even going to open the door to a discussion on whether or not the TV debates are worthwhile. That isn’t the issue here. The real issue is a major party leader; who might one day become PM; wishing to pass laws to compell people to debate.
That isn’t a very liberal approach to democratic discourse. And it certainly won’t be condusive in raising the quality of discourse in our country.

I say this in a non party political way: the right of refusal golden. Our democracy requires and needs our contrarians. We undermine these principles at our peril.

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