SNP business convenor Kirsten Oswald has written a letter of complaint to Sky News chief John Ryley and Ofcom over the decision to omit the party from a proposed election debate.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and even LibDem leader Jo Swinson have been invited – but the UK’s third-largest party has not been included.

Now Oswald has warned the SNP may “test the matter in the courts” if the situation is not addressed.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon hits out a Sky's decision to omit SNP from debate
READ MORE: SNP complain to Sky News and Ofcom over election debate exclusion

Read her letter in full below.


Dear John,

I write to challenge the decision of Sky News to exclude the SNP from your proposed leaders’ debate. This debate fundamentally fails the electorate at what is a crucial time for the UK and critically, we believe, fails to meet your statutory obligations as a broadcaster.

This election matters more than perhaps any other in recent times and it is inexplicable that instead of inviting the SNP, the third largest party in the UK parliament at the two most recent elections, you have instead invited one of parliament’s smaller parties which at the last election secured only a third as many seats as the SNP.

The SNP has been the third largest party in the UK Parliament since 2015 and it is a position current polling and support levels suggest will be retained on December 12th. It will not have escaped your attention – or that of other party leaders – that this could see the SNP hold the balance of power after the election.

Our position that we can escape from Brexit and choose a better future for Scotland as an independent country is an essential part of this election debate and not one articulated by any of the other parties. The result of the election will determine not just the UK’s relationship with the EU, but could also determine the course of Scotland’s relationship with the UK.

As a result, it is not just voters in Scotland who are impacted by your decision, but voters across the UK as a whole. In short, this proposal is a democratic outrage that shortchanges the whole of the UK.

Under sections 5 and 6 of the Ofcom code you are bound to ensure that “an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each programme”. Candidates with significant views and perspectives should be included and you must take into account evidence of past electoral support and/or current support.

On an impartial assessment of all of these grounds the SNP is unquestionably entitled to be in any debate in which you intend to include a party which has - and which current polls suggest will continue to have – fewer seats than the SNP and whose view on critical issues in this campaign, such as the future of the UK is no different to that represented by the other two parties.

There are no grounds for excluding the SNP other than a failure on the part of Sky News to recognise the multi-nation and multi-party nature of UK politics and the UK electoral system.

Finally, it is clear that voters and viewers want to see a debate which includes Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the SNP. In the Sky News article setting out your proposal you state that a YouGov poll showed 53% of people supported the kind of debate you propose. In fact a YouGov poll published on 3 November shows that when given the choice 53% of people believe Nicola Sturgeon should be included in the debate, while only 9% favoured the format you propose.

A copy of this letter has also been sent to Ofcom requesting urgent action prior to the broadcast of any debate. If this fundamental issue of democracy is not resolved to our satisfaction, we reserve the right to test the matter in the courts.

Kirsten Oswald SNP business convener