STV must not exclude Scottish Greens from TV debate

Scotland’s media has a responsibility to reflect the range of voices and policies on offer at this election

The Scottish Greens have called on STV to urgently reconsider the party’s exclusion from the upcoming General Election Scottish Leaders debate, which takes place on Monday 3 June.

The co-chairs of the party's Executive Committee have written to the broadcaster’s CEO, Simon Pitts, to challenge the decision.

The letter argues that the Scottish Greens have been a permanent presence in the Scottish Parliament since 1999 and that the party has achieved record results both in the 2021 Holyrood election and the 2022 local elections. It goes on to point out that the Scottish Greens’ record as a party of government in recent years will likely be discussed at length in the debate, with no right of reply, that without the party the panel of leaders will oppose independence three to one despite the public being evenly split on the issue and that an all-male lineup could be avoided by the inclusion of Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater.

Ross Greer MSP, co-chair of the party’s Executive Committee said: “It is outrageous that a national broadcaster has excluded us from their leaders’ debate despite the Scottish Greens having been one of the five major parties in this country for more than 20 years.

“We are standing a record number of candidates in this election, giving the vast majority of people across the country the opportunity to vote for our positive vision of a fairer, greener and independent Scotland.

“It is a vision that many people share, and one that deserves to be seen, heard and contrasted with the offers put forward by other parties.

“Scotland’s media has a responsibility to reflect the range of voices and policies on offer at this election, not to give voters the impression that their choices are far more limited than is really the case.”


Text of the letter sent to Simon Pitts, CEO of STV

Dear Simon,

We write as co-chairs of the Scottish Green Party’s Executive Committee to raise our concerns regarding the exclusion of our party leaders from STV’s General Election debate this coming Monday 3rd June.

Scotland has five mainstream political parties, all of whom have continuously held representation at national and local level in our country for decades. One of those parties is of course the Scottish Greens, so we are left perplexed by STV’s decision to exclude us from the centrepiece of your election campaign coverage.

More people across Scotland will have the opportunity to vote for a Scottish Greens candidate this year than at any previous Westminster election. Therefore, the majority of your viewing audience will be deprived of the opportunity to hear from the full breadth of visions on offer from the mainstream party candidates in their constituency.

In excluding our co-leaders from previous election debates, STV has relied heavily on the current level of representation each party holds at Westminster. We acknowledge that the Scottish Greens do not presently hold seats in the House of Commons, but this alone is not justification for our exclusion and essentially amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy; it is far less likely that a voter will choose to give their support to a party whom they have not had the opportunity to hear from as a result of decisions such as this.

We would make the following additional points:

  • All four party leaders currently invited to your debate are Members of the Scottish Parliament and not candidates at this election, as are Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie
  • It is all but guaranteed that our record in the Scottish Government will be raised by our opponents during the debate, but without the opportunity for a Scottish Green to respond. This would significantly compromise your obligation to provide balance in your coverage
  • Support for and opposition to Scottish independence are roughly equal, but the current composition of your panel is a three to one split against independence, again compromising the obligation to provide balance on one of the defining issues of our national politics
  • At present your panel of party leaders is entirely male. The only woman to lead a political party in Scotland is Lorna Slater. STV has made significant progress on its commitment to achieve a 50/50 balance in its news programming and whilst you are not in control of who leads each political party, you do control the overall balance of your panel through the parties you invite

We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this issue and STV’s wider election coverage plans with you as soon as possible.

More in 2024 Westminster Election