Today the Politics show has hosted a debate with the 7 Northern Ireland European election candidates today (BBC One NI, 12pm) with an audience that periodically voted on some general questions put to them.
Three audience polls struck me: 2/3 thought that the elections should be on purely European issues; a bigger majority (high 70s, I think) felt that the election issues being fought were mainly a nationalist-unionist battle; and a similar majority (again, I think it was in the high 70s) said that the expenses scandal would not effect their vote. The expenses scandal hasn't been as big an issue in NI as it has in the UK, though there has been a few big headlines on NI MPs.
If you're in the UK (with a UK computer), you can watch the debate on BBC iPlayer here.
A few of the main issues discussed were:
- Whether or not the Peace Money from the EU was being well spent.
- Double Jobbing (where a politician has more than one mandate [MEPs cannot have another mandate now - Ian Paisley was famous for double, and sometimes triple jobbing, but many NI politicians did it (and some still do)]. The audience were against this practice).
- Who would top the poll, and if this is an important question.
- Do/how much do the NI MEPs work together in NI's interests.
Sadly CAP and CFP was not discussed, despite them being important issues to NI as an agricultural region. Neither was the issue of the next Commission Presidency, though without competing candidates, this is more understandable. Neither was financial regulation, which is a lost opportunity for the BBC to steer the debate towards what I think would have been topical issues.
Still, even if I have remaining and perhaps even more questions on what the candidates stand for, it was interesting to watch all the candidates together. At least, it was for me.