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Why Abolish shouldn’t be invited to the leaders’ election debate

02 Apr 2021 4 minute read
The logo of the Abolish the Assembly party

David Hannington-Smith

It all seems to be kicking off in the lead up to the Senedd Election Debates.

The leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price, has called for the BBC to uninvite the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party from the Senedd debates.

The BBC have refused to do so and have said that their editorial process is “fair and impartial”. I believe they’ve made the wrong call.

So far it has invited the leaders of Labour, Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrats and Abolish.

Abolish responded to the calls for them to uninvited by saying that if the Lib Dems are attending, then they should too. They cited a recent YouGov poll had Abolish ahead of Lib Dems in regional voting.

Labour, Plaid and Conservatives are a given for this debate, so I’ll put them to one side.

Objectively comparing the Lib Dems to Abolish shows us they have similar average polling figures, and a similar number of seats. Although it should be noted that Abolish have yet to actually win a single Senedd seat. Their only 2 seats come from party defections.

As it stands, AWAP are fielding 10 constituency candidates: 4 in Cardiff, 1 in Wrexham, 1 in the Vale, 1 for Blaenau Gwent and the rest in the Valleys.

On March 7 they said they would be announcing more nominations across Wales and filling their regional list, but as yet, as far as I am aware that hasn’t happened.  Abolish is therefore, at best, a regional party standing in elections to an institution they want to tear down.

Given one of Abolish key arguments is that people in the north of Wales feel like the Cardiff Senedd doesn’t represent them, it may surprise you that just five weeks from polling day, it has yet to announce a single candidate for any seat or region north of Cynon Valley, apart from Wrexham.

Looking at the appropriateness for other parties to be involved in the BBC Senedd debate, the Greens should be there ahead of Abolish.

They have already put forward 37 nominations, have a similar polling average at around 5%, and, like Abolish, didn’t win a seat in 2016. And what of Propel, UKIP and Reform?

‘Very strange’ 

It is very strange that using a “fair and impartial” system to decide which parties should be represented in a BBC debate, they came to the conclusion that Abolish should be there at all.

On a recent BBC Question Time broadcast in Cardiff, representatives from Labour, Plaid, Conservatives and Reform UK attended. There were no Liberal Democrats and there was no one from Abolish.

They must have very recently updated their editorial decision making process, because otherwise, by their own definition, one of these broadcasts is neither fair nor impartial. So, which is it?

Abolish should not be at the debate. In a national debate, regional parties always take a back seat.

Abolish have only one candidate standing outside South Wales Central region. It is clear what Abolish want. It’s in their name.

So, what can they bring a debate how Wales moves forward post Covid and Brexit other than repeating “Westminster should take back control” as their answer to every question?

They don’t add anything to the debate, and with the next 5 years being crucial to combatting climate change, the Green Party are far better suited to being included than them.

Last month BBC bosses ordered Huw Edwards to remove a flag of his own country from his Twitter profile picture for undisclosed reasons.

Now they have invited a party who wants to remove the Senedd to a debate about the future work of the Senedd and stood by that decision quoting their “fair and impartial” editorial processes.

Abolish don’t deserve to be there, while the Greens could contribute a lot and should be included and given a chance.

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