Scottish election TV debates restrict political choice

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Commenting on the decision of STV and the BBC to exclude one the five parties represented in the Scottish parliament from their televised election debates, Simon Barrow, co-director of the beliefs and values think-tank Ekklesia, said:

"With the decision to exclude the Scottish Greens, despite their parliamentary representation, major broadcasters are failing the public in the task of providing fair election coverage, and are giving preferential treatment to large, well-funded political parties.

"Back in June 2009, Ekklesia's report onThe state of independents: alternative politics set out the case for citizen-based and associational politics as a counter-weight to the hegemony of the big parties and top-down elites. It also indicated the need for political, electoral, financial and media reform to inject fairness into a system which denies real choice and stifles participation."

"Whatever your political views, the reality is that Greens have elected representatives, a significant voice in Scottish politics, and are the only party who have put forward an alternative to the cuts-based economic strategy accepted or promoted by the 'big four'. Yet STV and the BBC have decided that their viewers will not hear directly from their co-leader Patrick Harvie in these important TV debates, and that the other leaders will not have the opportunity to question and be questioned by one of their strongest critics.

"This seems an odd way of delivering a public service obligation, particularly as polling evidence clearly suggests that the public favour a wider rather than a narrower debate."

News story: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14432

Also on Ekklesia: 'The state of independents: alternative politics' (2009 report) - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/research/independent_politics