I’ve written today to the broadcasters and the Newspaper Society which includes all the main daily titles in Scotland, asking them to join together to make a combined approach to the Prime Minister urging him to take part in a televised debate with the First Minister. I enclose a copy of the letter.
I don’t think we should meekly accept the situation and I am astonished at the lack of a lion’s roar from all Scots that this is the Prime Minister’s duty. It is a snub to all Scotland, Unionist and Nationalist, and if our media truly speak for us all, I think they should at the very least be telling the PM that this is a slight which does him no favours. I can’t imagine his heroes, Mrs Thatcher or Churchill, turning down the chance to argue for Britain against a Scottish Nationalist. In fact, I don’t think John Major would have turned it down either. Our media executives should be demanding the appropriate level of importance to a defining moment in the history of Scotland and Britain. If Mr Cameron has his own political reasons for demurring, that only emphasises the poor state of the UK. But that cannot be permitted as an excuse for ducking his responsibilities. I’ll let you know what I hear in due course. (Probably a letter asking: Who are YOU?)
I am writing to ask if you think there is a case for a concerted initiative by editors to ask the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision not to participate in a televised head-to-head debate with the First Minister ahead of the referendum next September.
We all have our political views but when the existence of the United Kingdom is at stake, it appears to be a striking omission for the elected head of the British Government to decline an invitation to present himself before the Scottish public in debate with his opposite number.
I suspect even Unionists will consider this a snub to the Scots as it gives the impression the PM does not attach due importance to Scotland’s role in the Union if he relinquishes his obvious duty of leading for the UK in what will be a key moment. Does not his reluctance diminish Scotland’s standing? Editors have influence and collectively might be able to persuade him of the value of taking on Mr Salmond.
A head-to-head television debate would also be a major media event of benefit to all platforms in Scotland and would be of global significance projecting this important part of our national debate worldwide.
I am sending this to the Scottish Newspapers Society, the BBC and STV.
Derek W Bateman