Nationalist anger at BBC ‘stitch-up’

By Alex Stevenson

The Scottish Nationalist party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru are reviewing their support for the licence fee in response to their exclusion from the forthcoming televised general election debates.

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are set to battle it out across three half-hour televised debates. The BBC is hosting one alongside ITV and Sky.

But the nationalist party leaders, Alex Salmond and Ieuan Wyn Jones, are being left out in what the nationalists claim is “the metropolitan editorial bias of broadcasters”.

The parties met in Westminster this morning to discuss the issue. They have concluded their historic support for continuing the BBC licence fee may have to be withdrawn.

Plaid’s Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd pointed out Canada’s state broadcaster CBC achieves balance across five parties and two languages.

“It is unacceptable for the people of Wales and Scotland to be short-changed in this way and for the leaders of London parties to be given an additional 90 minutes of prime time exposure,” he said.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson agreed, claiming “entire countries” were being excluded by the broadcasters.

“This debacle underlines why Scotland and Wales needs a strong voice at Westminster,” Mr Robertson commented.

“A stitch up between the London-based BBC management and the London parties has disenfranchised voters in three countries.”

The parties are now expected to back the devolution of broadcasting to the Scottish parliament and the Welsh Assembly.