The BBC will, I am sure, in due course, acknowledge that I have written to them and will doubtless come up with some long winded management speak gobbledegook reply, about overall balance, and period of referendum campaign, etc.
In a debate clearly meant to be largely about the referendum (why otherwise invite an audience of only 16 and 17 year olds?*), it was odd that neither the YES campaign nor the NO campaign was invited to take part. Instead of that the Respect MP from Bradford and the UKIP MEP for South East England were invited.
A cynic might think that with the dual disadvantage for UK viewers of the programme coming from Edinburgh, and having questions supposedly framed by 16 and 17 year olds, the largely English audience would give it a miss and the ratings would suffer. So to spice it up, why not bring in two well known hopefully adversarial figures from England, to make the tv audience feel less alienated? (After all, the English audience neither know, nor care, who Robertson, Davidson, Riddoch or Sarwar are, and both Galloway and Farage are good tv.)
I'm glad to know that, among all the letters of complaint from unimportant ordinary people like me, the BBC will also have received a letter from the unaffiliated Electoral Reform Society of Scotland. They may have to put a little more effort into answering this one.
Dear Ms Valentine
The Electoral Reform Society in Scotland seeks to inform and improve Scotland's democracy. With that in mind, we have being undertaking an inquiry into what a good Scottish democracy looks like.
A major theme that has emerged from this year long, citizen led inquiry, is the importance of the media to instruct, publicise and inform the debate. There has been support for a publicly funded media provider, but a strong sense that that body should be impartial and should seek to provide balanced and informed coverage of politics. Clearly this is of particular concern in the run up to the 2014 referendum.
We were concerned therefore to see the lineup for the BBC Question Time programme to be held in Edinburgh this evening (Thursday 13th June). Not only does the selection of panellists fail to represent the makeup of Scottish politics, but it also seems to be aimed more at pantomime than serious debate.
That this should be the case when the audience is, very pleasingly, to be made up of 16 and 17 year olds in recognition of the extension of the franchise to that group for the referendum is worrying.
It seems to show a lack of respect for these young audience members - implying that they do not deserve serious political debate. It also fails to allow them to hear from their elected representatives in this public debate forum which receives the widest of political attention. Two of the parties which will be competing for their vote in 2014 are unrepresented and the Yes and Better Together campaigns are needlessly unequally represented. Were this not bad enough, available spaces on the platform are taken instead by George Galloway MP and Nigel Farage MEP, two individuals and parties who are not represented in Scotland.
We welcome the decision to involve 16 and 17 year olds in a public debate about the referendum, but the chosen panelists do those 16 and 17 year olds a disservice as they will not be able to hear from the parties who represent them and who will be seeking their vote in 2014.
We would ask the BBC to urgently reconsider the panel, and at the very least to re-schedule a repeat of this edition of Question Time, but with a panel representative of Scottish politics that respects the BBC's role to be impartial and equal.
* The programme actually was divided up by topic as follows (thanks for Rev Stu's research)
PRIVACY AND SURVEILLANCE: 15:47, INDEPENDENCE: 33:01, SYRIA: 7:28.
(By the way, I'd like to make it clear that I have not watched the programme. I wouldn't give them the audience numbers. My complaint is about the makeup of the panel; the exclusion of two parties which have representation in parliament and the inclusion of two parties which have none.)