YouGov Poll: 63% back inclusion of Greens in TV debates

For immediate release 29 March 2011

The Scottish Greens today released the results of a YouGov poll conducted for the party over the weekend, indicating almost three to one support for the TV debates that start tomorrow to include the Scottish Greens alongside the four other parties represented in Holyrood's last session.

Eleanor Scott, the Greens' Co-convenor, said:

"Elections are meant to be about democracy, and there's no excuse for our broadcasters to ignore the will of the people and choose the parties they want to promote. There were five parties elected to the last Parliament, and any of those five could be called upon to take part in Scotland's next government. If nothing else, Greens deserve to be scrutinised and tested just like the other parties.

"The BBC and STV must respect the democratic voice of the Scottish people. Today's overwhelming poll result shows how out of touch they risk being if they persist in excluding Green voices from these debates. Time is tight, but there's still time for them to think again. It shouldn't be too hard to pull a fifth chair into the studio for Tuesday evening's debate, and I've asked Patrick Harvie to make sure he's available."

Eleanor Scott also wrote last week to the leaders of the four parties currently included, and received the following responses.

John Park, Labour's Election Co-ordinator, said:

"I have great sympathy with your predicament. While we do respect the right of independent broadcasters to make editorial decisions, we are broadly supportive of your position for two reasons. First, the long history of election debates in Scotland makes the situation significantly different to the recent prime ministerial debates in the general election. Where those debates were focused on the candidates aspiring to be the Prime Minister, the Scottish election debates have for many decades been focused on the parties standing for election to what is now a pluralist legislature. Second, I note that, unlike at the general election, there has been no substantive discussion with the political parties in Scotland around these debates. This is much regretted."

The letter from John Park is available here.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives said:

"Annabel is relaxed about who she debates against - however it is a matter for the broadcasters to decide who to invite to the TV debates
and it should be noted that only 4 parties are fielding candidates in every seat in this election."

No formal response has yet been received from either the SNP or the Lib Dems.

YouGov polled 1025 Scottish adults about this decision between the 25th and the 28th of March 2011. The question asked was as follows:

The leaders of four out of the five parties in the Scottish Parliament are due to take part in TV debates in the run up to the election, but the broadcasters have not offered a place to the fifth party, the Scottish Greens. Which of these statements comes closest to your views?

The Scottish Greens should be included in the TV debates: 63%
The Scottish Greens should not be included in the TV debates: 22%
Don't know: 15%