UK election 2017: STV to host leader debate on 24 May

Kezia Dugdale,Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson and Willie RennieImage source, PA
Image caption,
From left, Kezia Dugdale, Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie took part in a debate for last year's Holyrood election

STV is to host a live television debate with the leaders of the four main political parties in Scotland in the run-up to the General Election.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will take questions.

They will be alongside Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie for the political special on 24 May.

It will be hosted by STV's political editor Bernard Ponsonby.

The Scottish Greens have criticised the decision to leave them out of the debate, pointing out that they have more MSPs and members than the Liberal Democrats.

'Lack of balance'

A spokesman said: "STV froze us out of their general election debate in 2015 but doing so two years later after so much has changed in Scottish politics is simply bizarre.

"The lack of balance given the ongoing constitutional question is extraordinary. The Green MSPs' prominent role in Scottish politics is certain to feature in the debate, so it's completely unacceptable that we won't be there to address references to us.

"We hope STV see sense and put on a fair debate, which we'd be delighted to take part in."

However, a spokesman for STV said: "Under the Ofcom code, STV is required to consider historical election performance and our editorial decision is to include the leaders of the four largest parties in Scotland in its debate."

The broadcast will come from the Tramway theatre in Glasgow and take place in front of an audience of 150 comprising a representative sample of the Scottish electorate.

Gordon Macmillan, STV's head of news, said: "This is an exciting time in Scottish and UK politics, and we've rarely seen public political engagement so high.

"STV's debate will give members of the audience an opportunity to put their questions to the leaders of the four main political parties and the leaders will also cross-examine each other.

"We hope viewers tune in for an engaging debate about the key political issues in Scotland today."