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Monday, 10 November 2014

Open letter to BBC Trust from parliamentarians

Today an open letter signed by Greens, Labour, Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and Independent parliamentarians calling on the BBC to change their rules on allowing the other minor parties in the leaders debate after the United Kingdom Independence Party leader, Nigel Farage, has been invited on. Copy of the letter is below:

Rona Fairhead
Chair – BBC Trust
BBC Trust Unit
180 Great Portland Street
London W1W 5QZ
10 November 2014
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:
  • 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 (Plaid Cymru)
Paul Flynn MP (Labour)
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (Crossbencher)
Patrick Harvie MSP, Convener, Scottish Green Party
Baroness Jenny Jones (Green)
Baroness Helena Kennedy (Labour)
Elfyn Llwyd MP (Plaid Cymru)
Caroline Lucas MP (Green)
Baron Herman Ouseley (Crossbencher)
Angus Robertson MP, Westminster SNP Leader
Nicholas Trench, Earl of Clancarty (Crossbencher)
Mike Weir MP (SNP)
Hywel Williams MP (Plaid Cymru)