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BBC respond to demand from Greens to be included in leaders’ debate after Abolish invitation

05 Apr 2021 4 minute read
Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales Amelia Womack

The BBC has responded to demands from the Welsh Green Party to be included in the upcoming Senedd election debate.

The leader of the party in Wales, Anthony Slaughter, said it “must” be allowed to take part, after it was revealed that the BBC had invited Abolish the Welsh Assembly.

But the BBC has responded to the call by insisting that it is “confident” that its editorial process has been “fair and impartial”.

Anthony Slaughter said: “‘Abolish don’t deserve to be there, while the Greens could contribute a lot and should be included and given a chance.’ @WalesGreenParty must be included in Senedd Election Debates. #InviteTheGreens #Senedd21”

Deputy leader of the Greens, Amelia Womack, who is standing for the party in South Wales East at the Senedd election, said: “Hey @BBCWales, I am incredibly disappointed to see that the Greens have not been invited to these debates, yet the far-right Abolish the Welsh Assembly have.

“Can you please get in touch to discuss this. Thanks.”

A spokesperson for BBC Cymru Wales said: “BBC Cymru Wales will be providing a range of content and debating opportunities on television, radio and online in both English and Welsh during the forthcoming election campaign.

“As part of our commitment to provide news, analysis and scrutiny, there will be one Welsh leaders’ debate programme on BBC One Wales on 29 April.

“In determining the composition of the panel for this programme, we were required to make an editorial judgement with regard to what is an appropriate level of coverage.

“That careful judgement has taken account of past levels of electoral support, as well as any robust trends in current support and confirmed levels of candidacy.

“We are confident that our editorial processes have been fair and impartial whilst reflecting the reality of the Welsh political landscape.

“BBC Cymru Wales will continue to provide full coverage of the election campaign, and key issues including the environment, across all its news platforms.”

‘The case’ 

To make the case for the inclusion of the Greens, Anthony Slaughter shared an opinion article by independence supporter David Hannington-Smith on the subject.

The article says: “As it stands, AWAP are fielding 10 constituency candidates: 4 in Cardiff, 1 in Wrexham, 1 in the Vale, 1 for Blaenau Gwent and the rest in the Valleys.

“On March 7 they said they would be announcing more nominations across Wales and filling their regional list, but as yet, as far as I am aware that hasn’t happened.  Abolish is therefore, at best, a regional party standing in elections to an institution they want to tear down.

“Given one of Abolish key arguments is that people in the north of Wales feel like the Cardiff Senedd doesn’t represent them, it may surprise you that just five weeks from polling day, it has yet to announce a single candidate for any seat or region north of Cynon Valley, apart from Wrexham.

“Looking at the appropriateness for other parties to be involved in the BBC Senedd debate, the Greens should be there ahead of Abolish.

“They have already put forward 37 nominations, have a similar polling average at around 5%, and, like Abolish, didn’t win a seat in 2016. And what of Propel, UKIP and Reform?”

The BBC have also faced calls to uninvite Abolish from the debate by Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price.

He made his comments after Lee Canning from Abolish the posted an online image of Plaid Cymru MS Leanne Wood with the caption: “The ugly face of nationalism”, which has now been deleted.

Writing to the other party leaders, Price called on them to “join me in condemning the party’s behaviour and sending a clear message that it has no place in the Senedd Election campaign”.

“I would also ask that you support us in calling on the BBC to uninvite the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party from the televised debate so as not to allow them to further toxify the public discourse in Wales,” he said.

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