Nats benefit from no seats at PM’s debate

One of the lesser delights of the TV election was last Monday’s comprehensive stuffing of Jeremy Paxman, not by some Westminster luminary but the unlikely figure of the Plaid Cymru’s economics guru the terrifyingly magisterial Eurfyl ap Gwilym, as noted by Alan Trench ( see his You Tube link).

There is a serious point in this, beyond preparation (or not). Paxman clearly seems to think that the ‘normal’ or ‘fair’ way of allocating public spending should be that everyone gets the same – equal per capita funding. He doesn’t appear even to understand the concept of allocation of funds according to relative need, let alone accept that principle.

The riveting exchanges which Newsnight has somehow failed to highlight were unfortunately timed examples of the occasional gaps in understanding between the metropolis and the devolved UK over big issues like political broadcasting and public finance. Simon Jenkins links the two subjects ingeniously by insisting that if the BBC had been able to give seats to the SNP and Plaid Cymru in the Prime Minister’s Debate, their greedy demands for more and more dosh would have been exposed to the appalled English.

Jenkins being pretty metropolitan himself probably hasn’t noticed the scale of consoling coverage awarded to the Celts in the UK national networks – not to mention the leaders’ debates and the avalanche of other coverage mounted in  both nations’ own BBC networks which Jenkins may never have heard of.

In spite of the failure of his legal challenge to exclusion, Alex Salmond looked pretty pleased with the outcome – and himself – in last night’s post-Debate Question Time.

No doubt the SNP and Plaid will go on to blame their absence from the PM’s Debate for the rise of the Lib Dems in Scotland and the Conservatives in Wales. There is an election on, after all.

 

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London

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