TV Leaders' Debates - Open letter to BBC Trust from parliamentarians

10 November 2014

Rona Fairhead

Chair – BBC Trust

BBC Trust Unit

180 Great Portland Street

London W1W 5QZ 


Dear Rona,

We, the undersigned, are of the view that the forthcoming TV Leaders’ Debates should not be limited to representatives of the biggest 3 Westminster parties and UKIP, but should instead also reflect the diversity and support enjoyed by other parties, including the Green Party, SNP and Plaid Cymru. 

Political commentators have questioned the decision and more than 250,000 people have now signed a petition that calls for the Greens to be included in the debates on the grounds of fairness. Support for the SNP in Scotland is at record levels and Plaid Cymru have had elected representatives in the House of Commons since 1966.

There is clear public support for broadening out the Leaders’ Debates.  Regardless of their politics, most people have a strong sense of what is right and fair. Whilst we welcome the BBC’s recent decision to consult on its draft election guidelines, we believe that the corporation’s public service remit makes a clear case for wider representation than is currently envisaged. In particular, the BBC is bound to[1]:

·         Engage a wide audience in news, current affairs and other topical issues.

·         Encourage conversation and debate about news, current affairs and topical issues.

·         Build greater understanding of the parliamentary process and political institutions governing the UK.

We believe that these duties would not be fully discharged if viewers were not given the opportunity to hear from a range of political parties in the run up to the 2015 General Election, with the Leader debates representing a key opportunity.

We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Edwards MP

Paul Flynn MP

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

Patrick Harvie MSP, Convener, Scottish Green Party

Baroness Jenny Jones

Baroness Helena Kennedy

Elfyn Llwyd MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Baron Herman Ouseley

Angus Robertson MP, Westminster SNP Leader

Nicholas Trench, Earl of Clancarty

Mike Weir MP

Hywel Williams MP



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