SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond has scored an election campaign victory after it was revealed that he will address the whole of the UK immediately before the leaders of the London parties take part in a televised debate.
The SNP will use a planned party election slot, scheduled for screening before next Thursday’s debate in order to broadcast a specially recorded address which will explain the SNP’s alternative message to the cuts agenda of the London parties.
Mr Salmond will use the broadcast to challenge what he will brand the “cosy Westminster consensus” on budget cuts which the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem leaders will all agree on during the ITV debate.
The First Minister will argue that all political voices should have been allowed in order to ensure a real debate and to offer viewers an alternative to the “Metropolitan machine” politics of the London parties.
Predicting a “long-winded debate about English health, crime and schools”, Mr Salmond will also point out that the debate will be largely irrelevant to a Scottish audience.
Concerns regarding the make-up of the studio audience have already been raised after it emerged that supporters of some political parties are to be excluded. The debates will all be held in England and will consist of audience members drawn from areas nearby.
Previewing the party election broadcast, Mr Salmond said:
“Broadcasters sometimes trail their programmes by saying they can be seen ‘except for viewers in Scotland’. In the same way, this leaders’ debate is being directed at the electorate – except for viewers in Scotland.
“The so-called domestic issues which will be debated – things like health, education and policing – are all controlled in Scotland by Holyrood. As such this discussion will be totally meaningless to viewers in Scotland.
“The broadcasters have ensured Scotland’s voice is not being properly heard in the leaders’ debates. But our special party election broadcast will take our message to people right across the UK. And for those watching in Scotland, it will let them know there is a real alternative to the decade of despair threatened by the London parties – and that alternative is voting SNP on May 6th for local and national champions.”
The Party election broadcast will be screened at the following times on Thursday evening – all before the ITV leaders’ debate begins at 8.30pm:
BBC 1 Scotland 18:55
BBC2 Scotland 17:55
Channel 4: 19:55 (UK-wide)
Channel 5: 19:25 (UK-wide)
BBC Scotland have come under attack for what critics point to as a continuation of the UK broadcasters policy of marginalising non London based parties.
Respected columnist Joan McAlpine attacked the organisations Scottish arm after Scottish news broadcasts featured Labour stories as the lead item and systematically failed to offer any analysis or scrutiny.
Ms McAlpine suggested BBC Scotland’s TV coverage was ‘incoherent’ and said:
“Six o’clock news – led with Labour’s manifesto launch. Extensive coverage at top and further down the show.
“then three minute synopsis of SNP campaign launch”
Ms McAlpine pointed out that on Reporting Scotland “Labour Manifesto Launch gets a second bite of the cherry” and “Tops programme”.
The Times journalist also attacked the complete lack of analysis or scrutiny of Labour’s ‘Scottish Manifesto’ by BBC Scotland pointing out that the “Document is re-written to address devolved policy which is nothing to do with Westminster. “ adding: “Nobody says this is ‘irrelevant’.”
She also questioned why the SNP Campaign launch that same day had been ignored and pointed out that the programme had allowed only a Salmond soundbite on fuel prices.
Ms McAlpine ended by saying that it was: “Strange that Brian Taylor’s genuinely impartial voice is not reflected in the mainstream coverage.”
You can read the views of Joan McAlpine here.