A live debate on STV’s flagship current affairs programme Scotland Tonight drew online criticism yesterday for the absence of Zara Kitson, the Scottish Green candidate in the upcoming Dunfermline by-election.
The broadcaster was slammed across Twitter and Facebook.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cara Hilton, James Reekie, and Susan Leslie – the SNP, Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dem candidates respectively – appeared on air last night to argue why they could best represent the people of Dunfermline, but the 27-year old Green candidate did not feature.
Ofcom guidance for broadcasters like STV defines “major parties” in Scotland as the SNP, Labour, Conservatives, and Liberal Democrats, giving the Scottish Greens a minor status comparable to Ukip and the Scottish Socialists, even though the Greens have enjoyed considerable electoral success.
An opinion poll conducted between late August and early September by Panelbase suggested that the Greens could outperform the Liberal Democrats in the regional vote in the 2016 election by 6% to 4%. In 2011, the Greens won only three fewer seats than the Lib Dems.
However, the Greens did not contest constituency seats in 2011, and failed to save their deposit in the Aberdeen Donside by-election earlier this year.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Green Party said: “It is frustrating that despite having parliamentary representation since Holyrood began we are still regularly grouped with ‘others’ who have no parliamentary representation.
“We do have concerns that [Ofcom’s] guidance does not reflect the state of the parties in the Scottish Parliament and of course the Dunfermline by-election is an election for the Scottish Parliament.”
He added: “Ultimately the final decision is for broadcasters and you can be assured we do our best to make our case for inclusion.”