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.
THE TV ABSENTEES