The SNP have announced that they will now contest in court what they describe as the BBC’s ‘democratic disgrace’ in refusing to allow themselves and Welsh party Plaid Cymru to take part in the corporation’s nationwide election debate….
The SNP have announced that they will now contest in court what they describe as the BBC’s ‘democratic disgrace’ in refusing to allow themselves and Welsh party Plaid Cymru to take part in the corporation’s nationwide election debate.
Earlier this week the party had reluctantly decided that such an action would prove too costly and had indicated they would not contest the debate exclusions in court. However they have now revised their stance and revealed that a £50,000 fighting fund has been launched and that the battle for Scotland to be heard is now on.
Papers will be lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh asking for an interim interdict to prevent the BBC debate being broadcast. The debate is being broadcast in Scotland and Wales and both the SNP and Plaid are unhappy that they are not allowed to participate.
The £50,000 has to be raised within the next 48 hours in order to fund the action.
Two of the three debates have already taken place and have seen the rise of the LibDems as their leader Nick Clegg benefitted enormously from the massive publicity. The SNP claim that Scottish interests have been ignored and only representation in this debate will allow them to be heard.
The inclusion of the SNP would ensure that Scotland’s political landscape would be accurately reflected in the line-up. This would be facilitated by inclusion in the planned debate or by staging another leader’s debate before polling day that included the Scottish and Welsh parties.
First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond said:
“Everyone knows it is a stitch-up demanded by the London-based parties, and meekly agreed to by the BBC,” he said. “That’s why the SNP is today launching a fighting fund to raise the money needed to challenge the BBC’s decision in court.
“We are mounting an appeal to raise £50,000 by midnight on Monday. That’s the money we estimate we need to mount an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. It is a huge sum for a party like the SNP.
“But the issues at stake are too important to ignore.”
Mr Salmond argued that elections had to be fair and pointed out that the exclusions of the other national parties from the debates had led to them being airbrushed out of news reports and election discussion.
The First Minister added:
“And it is not fair to Scotland, or to Wales, to exclude the governing parties of our countries from TV debates which are now dominating all the election coverage.
“The legal papers are being drawn up, and if the financial appeal is successful, we propose to lodge papers at the court first thing on Tuesday morning, seeking justice and fairness.
“The court action we plan means we are asking that Scottish interests are properly represented when the final leaders’ debate is held in Birmingham on Thursday, or that a further and fair leaders’ debate is organised before polling day.
“We want Thursday’s BBC debate to go ahead, but we also want Scottish viewers to be given a fair picture of the choices on offer to them at the ballot box on May 6.
“And in Scotland that picture includes the SNP.”