It will be a serious offence to exclude Northern Ireland’s principal political party, the DUP, from the general election leaders’ debate, if the Green Party, Ukip, Plaid and the SNP are included.
It is not only unfair and an affront to the electors in Northern Ireland, it is also perverse and illogical from a wider UK perspective.
The reality is that the elected representatives of Northern Ireland could determine who governs the United Kingdom over the next five years.
That is the political and constitutional reality.
Sinn Fein would also have an arguable case for inclusion, except for the fact that they will not be able determine who ‘governs’ the United Kingdom over the next five years due to their policy choice of abstention.
The DUP case is compelling, if not overwhelming.
(The case of the SDLP and the Alliance Party is less strong, partly because they have fewer MPs, but more importantly because the SDLP are claimed as ‘allies’ by the Labour Party and the Alliance as ‘allies’ of the Liberal Party.)
The United Kingdom would be the first to “shout foul” and criticise if a comparable ‘plot’ to exclude a political party (and the electorate of an entire region) was made by a state in Eastern Europe or Africa.
Labour MP Thurrock 1992-2010