Page last updated at 12:06 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

SNP and Labour clash over TV election debates

Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Gordon Brown
Each leader will get a chance to speak first in a debate

The SNP and Labour have clashed over the rules for live prime ministerial debates in the run-up to the election.

The Nationalists said the BBC has unfairly excluded the party, which forms the Scottish government.

BBC, ITV and Sky and the three main UK political parties have now agreed the rules for the live debates.

The SNP has not ruled out the threat of legal action over the issue, but Labour said SNP leader Alex Salmond was not standing for prime minister.

The three 90-minute debates, featuring Labour's Gordon Brown, Tory David Cameron and Lib Dem Nick Clegg, will begin by focusing on domestic policies, international affairs and the economy.

Party exposure

Studio audiences will then be able to ask direct questions on any subject, with viewers doing the same via e-mail.

The BBC will hold separate party leader election debates in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and other parties will be able to respond to the debates during subsequent news programmes.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson said his party was looking at "all the options" to address its concerns, but told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme it would not try to prevent the debates from going ahead.

He said it was unacceptable for the licence fee-funded BBC to exclude Scotland's most popular political party from the leader debates.

"This is a matter of basic fairness in the run up to a general election and the BBC has decided to give an hour-and-a-half of exposure to the leaders of the three UK political parties each in the run up to the election - and has made not a single proposal to give balance to the SNP in the run-up to polling day," he said.

But former Scotland office minister David Cairns dismissed the SNP's concerns.

He said: "I can't think of a single election anywhere in the world at any time where somebody who wasn't even a candidate in that election actually wanted to take part in a live televised debate - Alex Salmond is not standing for this election in Westminster."

The Labour MP added: "In the UK parliament, which has got 650 seats, the SNP hold seven. In the UK parliament, the SNP are a fringe, minority party."



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Deal on prime ministerial debates
02 Mar 10 |  UK Politics
Televised election debates agreed
21 Dec 09 |  UK Politics
SNP to hold talks over TV debates
27 Dec 09 |  Scotland
No leaders' debate place for SNP
21 Dec 09 |  Scotland
New pressure for TV leader debate
03 Sep 09 |  UK Politics

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


MOST POPULAR ELECTION STORIES NOW
ELECTION FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
But now comes the difficult part - making it work
Why has Eton College produced 18 British PMs?
Frantic talks on who will form the next government

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific