Tom Gordon

Scottish Political Editor

MORE than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Scottish Greens to be included in next month's STV general election debate, the party revealed yesterday.

The announcement coincided with Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy writing to the broadcaster and calling for the Greens to feature in the live two-hour showdown from Edinburgh.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Tory Ruth Davidson and LibDem Willie Rennie, who are scheduled to take part in the April 7 event alongside Murphy, also say they want the Greens in the line-up.

Calls for the Greens to be included have been growing since STV announced on Thursday that only four of the five parties with MSPs at Holyrood would be take part in the debate.

The Scottish Greens immediately set up a petition for their addition, arguing the party has seen a surge in support since the referendum and regularly out-polls the LibDems.

Addressing STV directly, it said: "During the referendum campaign you rightly gave [MSP] Patrick Harvie a platform to argue the Green case for independence, including on your final major debate programme alongside Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson.

"It would be bizarre to now exclude the Greens from your next televised debate whilst including those they shared a platform with just last year."

The party reported yesterday that up to 40 people a minute had been signing the petition, which passed 10,100 names around 2pm.

Co-convener and Glasgow MSP Patrick Harvie said: "This groundswell of support across Scotland shows that there is a clear demand for the Greens to be included in the debate.

"These past two years have seen high-quality, enjoyable televised debates, with STV often hosting the best of them and with the Greens regularly given a platform.

"The public clearly expect this diversity of vision to continue being on offer, if only for them as voters to give us the scrutiny we all deserve.

"We are also grateful for the messages of support from the leaders of Scotland's four other major parties. Their statements add considerable weight to the call by over ten thousand members of the public for STV to reconsider and extend an invitation to the Greens."

He said taking legal action against STV was "not our preferred option" but remained a possibility.

STV says it has invited all the main Scottish parties as defined by broadcasting regulator Ofcom.