Greens demand place at STV leaders’ debate

The Greens have stepped up calls to be included in a televised leaders’ debate being staged in Scotland next week.

The Scottish Greens manifesto launch with leader Patrick Harvie, left, and Maggie Chapman, at Serenity Cafe on Jacksons Entry, Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean

Party co-leader Patrick Harvie has written to STV asking the broadcaster to ensure all five parties represented at Holyrood are allowed to take part in their debate next Tuesday.

It follows the submission of a 10,000 signature petition and the support of the other party leaders, as well as a motion in parliament signed by a majority of MSPs.

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STV’s current plans for the event at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms will include First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Labour leader Jim Murphy, Ruth Davidson of the Tories and Lib Dem chief Willie Rennie.

Mr Harvie’s letter states: “To exclude the Scottish Greens goes against the range of evidence showing that a debate including the Liberal Democrats but not including the Greens would be unreasonable.

“It would also be very much out of step with the sensible move by UK broadcasters and BBC Scotland to invite the Greens to proposed debates.”

The pro-independence Greens’ membership has surged to over 8,600 in the aftermath of the referendum. This compares to 11,000 of the Tories and the Scottish Lib Dems who are below 3,000.

Mr Harvie is now calling for a meeting with representatives from STV in the coming days to discuss the issue.

“In the context of a post-referendum election, with a politically-engaged electorate and a decline in support for two or three parties, it is clear that a broadcaster not reflecting a broader range of voices will not meet the expectations of its audience,” the letter states.”