Five leaders to take part in STV’s live election debate

STV unveils comprehensive plans for covering this year's Scottish Parliament election.

Five leaders to take part in STV’s live election debate Getty Images
Voters will decide the make-up of the Holyrood chamber in May.

Scotland’s five main political party leaders will take part in a pre-election debate live on STV.

Patrick Harvie (co-leader of the Scottish Green Party), Willie Rennie (Scottish Liberal Democrats), Douglas Ross (Scottish Conservatives), Anas Sarwar (Scottish Labour) and Nicola Sturgeon (Scottish National Party) will be pressed on the big issues on Tuesday, April 13.

The STV Leaders’ Debate from 7.30-9pm will be followed by reaction and analysis on Scotland Tonight at 10.40pm.

Voters in Scotland will go to the polls to decide the make-up of the next Holyrood parliament on Thursday, May 6.

Hosted by STV political editor Colin Mackay, the debate will begin with opening statements from each party leader, followed by initial discussion, cross-examination between the leaders and closing statements.

STV has also revealed its plans for covering the election itself, with special programmes as the count takes place on May 7 and May 8.

There will be no overnight count at this election due to the pandemic, with a result instead expected over the weekend.

Linda Grimes Douglas, head of news and current affairs at STV, said: “It’s a hugely exciting time for Scottish politics and our team is primed and ready to bring viewers the most comprehensive coverage of Election 2021. 

“From our Leaders’ Debate and one-to-ones on Scotland Tonight, to analysis and on-the-night updates as part of special programming – alongside fully comprehensive ongoing updates from across the country on STV News at Six – we’ve got it covered.”

How is STV covering the election?

Scotland Tonight Specials – Colin Mackay will carry out one-to-one leaders’ interviews, which will also be available for catch up on STV Player. 

STV News Election Special will air between 4-7pm and 8pm-8.30pm on Friday, May 7, bringing viewers the first results as they come in. The programme will be presented by John MacKay outside Holyrood, with STV special correspondent Bernard Ponsonby and Rona Dougall analysing the numbers at STV’s results studio in Glasgow – bringing viewers the story as it unfolds and key declarations as they happen live on air. STV reporters will be at voting counts across the country, feeding in live to the programme.

An additional STV News Election Special will air on Saturday, May 8 from 4.30-6.30pm, covering the results being declared as the new parliament begins to take shape. 

STV News at Six – Coverage continues on STV’s nightly news programme, with Kathryn Samson travelling to communities across the country in her Covid-secure ‘bubble’, inviting viewers to share views on all the political developments of the day.

The STV News website will offer comprehensive, up-to-the-minute coverage including leader interviews, expert insights from STV’s political team, rolling results coverage as the counts declare and detailed analysis once the outcome is known. Reporting will be available on the STV News website, apps and social media platforms.