Greens win BBC battle for TV leaders’ debate slot

Patrick Harvie. Picture: TSPL
Patrick Harvie. Picture: TSPL
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The Scottish Greens are to get a place on BBC leaders’ TV debates after fears they could be frozen out by official corporation guidance.

The party hopes to return MSPs in each of Scotland’s eight parliamentary constituencies in the May election and has welcomed the news, insisting they are an “essential part” of Holyrood coverage.

Meetings have been held between representatives from the Greens and BBC on the issue. The party even launched an online petition voicing concerns it could be frozen out from the “broadly similar levels” of coverage which the SNP, Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats would receive.

But the corporation announced today it would be staging two leaders debates, with Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie to be represented at both.

“It’s great to hear that the BBC in Scotland will include the Scottish Greens in all its TV debates,” a spokesman for the party said.

“We’ve been in Parliament since 1999 and are on course to achieve a record result, so viewers quite reasonably expect to hear from us.

“We have engaged constructively with the BBC, and while we await the final guidance of the BBC Trust, it is clear that programme-makers accept that Scotland has one Parliament with five parties and the Scottish Greens are an essential part of any high-profile Holyrood coverage.”

The pro-independnce Greens have seen their membership soar to more than 9,000 since the referendum, with polling of eight percent on average in 2015, well ahead of the Lib Dems.

The first BBC leaders debate, earmarked for Thursday March 24, will be chaired by Glenn Campbell and feature First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, Tory chief Ruth Davidson, Willie Rennie of the Lib Dems, as well as Mr Harvie and David Coburn of UKIP.

The second on May 1 will feature Ms Sturgeon, Ms Dugdale, Ms Davidson Mr Rennie and Mr Harvie.