One of the most striking things about the current election is the BBC’s total abandonment of even a pretence at impartiality….
One of the most striking things about the current election is the BBC’s total abandonment of even a pretence at impartiality with regard to the nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales (and other smaller parties like UKIP too), which is most obviously visible in the Corporation’s determined exclusion of them from the defining theatre of the campaign – the leaders’ debates.
In the light of protests pointing out that excluding what Ofcom defines as “main parties” in Scotland and Wales during an election is against broadcasting regulations, the BBC along with ITV and Sky (although the latter subsequently broke ranks) hastily rebranded the programmes as “Prime Ministerial debates”, and insisted that they were only for those politicians contesting the keys to 10 Downing Street.
The gigantic irony, of course, is that it looks increasingly as if NONE of the participants in the debates will automatically become the next Prime Minister.
Indeed, only one of them even has a vaguely realistic chance.
Nick Clegg won’t be the next PM, because our crooked electoral system ensures that the Lib Dems will have by far the smallest number of seats. Gordon Brown has no chance of achieving a majority, and Clegg has already explicitly ruled out supporting Brown as a minority PM.
So already, of the three debaters, we’re down to David Cameron. His chances of achieving a majority also look slim, but are still just about within the realms of possibility, especially with the support of the Ulster parties. But time is running out for the Tories to build the sort of margin they need to secure a majority against the Labour bias built in to the constituency system.
If the polls stay roughly where they are, the most likely next Prime Minister of the UK is a Labour MP who isn’t Gordon Brown. The exact identity of this hypothetical person is currently unknown. Alan Johnson has considerable support within the party, and has recently made fairly unambiguous overtures towards the Lib Dems about PR – something he also has a previous record of favouring and seems to be genuine about.
But other candidates including David Miliband and Ed Balls might also challenge for the leadership in the event of Clegg demanding Brown’s head as the price of his support. The one thing that seems certain about this least certain of elections is that one way or another, Brown is going to require the services of a removal firm come May 7th.
An interesting thing about the governance of the UK is that the Prime Minister, like other ministers, doesn’t have to be an MP at all, (Which negates another of the BBC’s attempted defences, namely that Alex Salmond isn’t standing for a Westminster constituency this time round). If a ruling party – or coalition – wants a particular person in its Cabinet and they haven’t been elected, all that’s required is a swift ennobling so that they’re a member of the House Of Lords, and they can serve in government.
In such a way was the ‘Sith Lord’ Baron Mandelson elevated to a position of administrative power, and so could anyone else be. Were Labour to find itself with the fewest votes but the most seats, and with Clegg blackballing Brown, they could anoint anyone they liked as their leader. They could go for national treasure Dale Winton as a unity candidate if they wanted, and with Lib Dem approval Lord Winton of Sweepshire would find himself discussing the next Queen’s Speech with Her Majesty.
Alternatively, they could go for a sporting hero loved in many parts of the UK. Kenny Dalglish would have support in Scotland, the North-East, the North-West and more, and certainly has managerial experience. He’s a born winner, but also statesmanlike in a crisis. The SNP would back him if their votes were also needed in the new coalition. And he’d be at least as honest and straightforward in debates and interviews as the candidates we have now.
“Prime Minister, are you going to renew Trident?”
“Mibbes aye, mibbes naw.”
We can but dream our dreams.
This article first appeared in wosblog