Monday, March 21, 2011

The Leaders' Debates, Patrick Harvie and a missed opportunity

A couple of weeks ago, Jeff over at Better Nation started off a petition to get Patrick Harvie of the Green Party included in the leaders' debates in the run up to the Holyrood elections, building on a post written the day before by James, who works for Patrick. This campaign has garnered quite a lot of support since from people like Lallands Peat Worrier and The Burd.

Much as I can see their point, to be honest, I've been a bit rhett butlerish about the whole thing so I thought it was maybe time to explain why, frankly, I'm finding it hard to give a damn.

Patrick Harvie appears in my list of Top Ten MSPs, so it's not that I have any aversion to him, it's just that I think the Greens here had a really good opportunity to put into practice the sort of pluralist approach that they are supposed to champion.

Let me explain. Patrick Harvie is not the leader of the Green Party in Scotland. He is the Co-Convener, an office he shares with Eleanor Scott, who was between 2003 and 2007 a Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands. I actually think that rather than push for Patrick, I'd have been a lot more engaged with the idea if they'd decided against putting another middle aged bloke in a suit on that stage, where, frankly, there are already enough of them, and gone for a woman who has equal authority and status in their party.

Not only that, but having Eleanor on would have shown a bit of confidence on their part that their ambitions weren't just limited to Glasgow and Edinburgh this time, that they hoped to represent the whole of Scotland.

I know that the Greens will come back and say that Patrick's their leader in the Parliament - but why not get out there beyond the Parliament?

I guess I'm just a bit disappointed that the Greens haven't been a bit more imaginative about how they've played this. It just screams of blokes in a huddle again, not looking at the bigger picture. They want Patrick in the debates to give them more balance, but they've missed the chance to show that they are aware of and act on other sorts of imbalance. They have missed the opportunity to really challenge the conventional way of doing things and that's why the campaign for Patrick just hasn't grabbed me. 


Malc said...

To be entirely fair to the Greens, this wasn't their petition. It was - entirely - Jeff's idea. That said, James was quite supportive!

But here's an idea that might get your support. There are likely to be (at least) 2 debates: one on ITV and one on BBC. I'm pretty sure the Greens could put up Patrick in one and Eleanor in the other.

The focus for me isn't so much who represents them (though I that is how the petition is worded) but that they are represented at all. Do you agree with that sentiment?

James Mackenzie said...

Patrick only turned 38 last week. Middle age seems a bit harsh.

And Malc's right, I'd be happy with either or both, obviously. Surely it's the politics and the policies that matter, not the personalities?

Theshooglypeg said...

An excellent point Caron. I signed the petition as I don't think it's up to TV broadcasters to choose which of the parties represented in Parliament we should hear from. But I would dearly like to see more women involved in this campaign.

Jeff said...

I'm disappointed, obviously, and a little bit confused by the points your making.

I would develop some arguments but from the lack of comments you look like you're not willing to debate your points...

(NB - Neither the Scottish Lib Dems nor the UK Lib Dems have had a female leader since they were formed in 1988. What's that old adage about taking the plank out your own eye before pointing out the splinter in another's?)


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