by MONITOR
ALTHOUGH there has been general agreement that the party leaders' TV debates have been successful in broadening the election debate there remain problems about the representation on them. The absence of smaller parties is a disadvantage of the present arrangements, especially at a time that confidence in the major parties is lessening. Perhaps of even greater concern is the exclusion of the Scottish National Party which currently is in office in the devolved Scottish administration. Scotland still returns an influential number of MPs to the Westminster Parliament and some of them could have a role to play in any negotiations if there is a hung parliament after the coming election. The need to hear the Welsh and Northern Irish views on national issues is perhaps not as compelling as that for the Scots, but it exists nonetheless.

Merely to state the problem is to illustrate its complexity. Debates which even now allow the three party leaders limited time to make their points would become almost unmanageable with additional participants. On the other hand the interests of voters beyond England should not be absent from the debate. These and a number of other points for consideration when the present election is over should be kept in mind. The use of TV in elections has been established but it can still be improved for the future.