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Scotland’s Dunne v Canwest

By Steven | April 30, 2010

Remember Peter Dunne’s successful legal action forcing his inclusion in TV3’s televised election debate?

The Scottish National party has tried it too. Not so successfully though.

[PS Decision here. A few notable things. First, it’s hard to disagree with the party’s claim that the debates really are extremely significant in determining electoral support. The Liberal Democrats’ bounce seems further proof of that:

The impact of the previous two debates on the media coverage of the General Election campaign as a whole, has been demonstrably the single largest factor in the current UK General Election campaign in terms of impact on the media profile , approval ratings of party leaders and overall voting intention …

Second, the delay in bringing the application was unforgivable. They’d known about the format of the debates since last December, and the application wasn’t made until after the first two televised debates. The judge found the delay significant. It may be explained, I think, by (a) the party’s realisation that it had a much better shot at the BBC, which hosted the third debate, since it’s a public body, rather than Sky and ITV which hosted the first two; and/or (b) the party’s realisation that its case was hopeless, and its real objective was to get some publicity during the election and to apply pressure on the BBC to crank up its coverage of the party outside the debates; and/or (c) the party’s desire to keep costs down.

Third, the application was surely doomed from the outset. The BBC’s decision was plainly not unreasonable. Even on the principles laid down in Dunne v Canwest, this application would not have succeeded.

Topics: Electoral speech, General | 12 Comments »

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