Friday, 26 September 2008

Open Letter to STV

cc: OFCOM, Stephen's Linlithgow Journal

Dear Sirs,

My understanding of election coverage is that the media has to maintain balance in its coverage.

6.2 Due weight must be given to the coverage of major parties during the
election period. Broadcasters must also consider giving appropriate coverage to
other parties and independent candidates with significant views and

Last night on STV's Politics Now show you featured the Glenrothes by election and had the Labour and SNP candidates only. Are you deciding who the people of Glenrothes should be voting for and excluding Harry Wills, Liberal Democrat and Maurice Golden, Conservative from having equal access to media provision on your channel. The same scenarios occured to some extent in the recent Glasgow East by election and the media perception is hard to overturn on the street if this unfairness persists.

I am forwarding my observations to the Braodcasting Standards Commission and publishing it openly on my blog as I see this as breach of the rules that we have to ensure a fair, democratic election system in our country.

Yours faithfully,


  1. Simple answer to this...

    As a party which lost its deposit in Glasgow East, and whose latest accounts doubt whether it can be described as a "going concern", the Liberal Democrats cannot be described as a major party.

  2. Except Sean they are in terms of the Broadcasting Standards Commisions code of political election coverage.

    As for the latest accounts were the Lib Dems not more solvent that Labour, the Conservatives and the SNP in the last financial year indeed the only party of the 4 in the black.

    Bad attempt to spin that one.

  3. Stephen -

    You are right that the OFCOM guidance currently defines "major party" as including the Liberal Democrats.

    But you missed the definition of "election period" which comes next - "For a parliamentary by-election, this period begins with the issuing of a writ or on such earlier date as is notified in the London Gazette."

    So, the election period has not started.

    So, your complaint is without merit.

    And, if you care to look at the accounts for the real major parties there is no "going concern" qualification by the auditors... Only the Scottish Liberal Democrats have that in their accounts.

    No spin - what the Scottish Liberal Democrat Auditors think of the state of the party.

  4. Yeah i read that in the auditors comments as well but we're nowhere near as bad as we were back in 1988 or several other points in recent history. Just because our auditors are a little more honest in assessment that others clawing back millions of debt doesn't make us the party that is worse off when facts point elsewhere.

  5. Your response is, itself, a dreadful spin and a slight on the respectable Auditors who audit the books of the other parties – which include “Big Five” – or whatever number it is now – firms.

    If Scottish Lib Dem membership levels were decent, that is at a level able to sustain the party financially, there would have been no “going concern” qualification.

  6. I see you are relating only to an isolationist Scottish party rather than one strand in a federalist UK-wide party.

    Although the membership numbers, as most of the local parties will assure you, has no direct correlation on the ability of Lib Dems to raise funds.