GLASGOW, September 11 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst - The largest debate of the Scottish independence campaign will give young, first-time voters a final chance to make an "informed decision" before heading to the polls, Louise Cameron, a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament has told RIA Novosti.
"This is a very important time in Scotland's history, and it is the first time that 16 and 17 year-olds are allowed to vote. Opportunities such as this debate have provided valuable opportunities for young people to engage with both campaigns to get the information they require in order to make an informed decision for themselves," Cameron said.
Cameron, who chairs the Scottish Youth Parliament, a forum representing views and opinions of 14 to 25-year-old Scots across the country said the "Big, Big Debate" hosted by the BBC and involving 12,000 first-time voters, would be an opportunity for young people to express their views on Scottish independence.
"We believe that politicians need to make an effort to meaningfully engage young people, and I hope this continues post referendum," Cameron said.
"I think opportunities such as the debate tonight will provide a good opportunity for young people who are undecided to listen to the final arguments from both campaigns to help them make an informed decision," she added.
But former BBC journalist Derek Bateman, who covered Scottish politics for more than two decades, was more skeptical.
"There may be an element of corporate PR after an appalling period of criticism of the BBC and they will want to generate a feel-good atmosphere with a hall of excited young people," Bateman told RIA Novosti.
The former journalist also noted he could not see the difference between having an audience of 12,000 or 120, since an hour-long program will only accommodate about a dozen questions.
Asked by RIA Novosti whether there might be a political motivation by the BBC in having an audience of just 16 and 17-year-olds, Bateman said, "I don't think there is any political motivation behind the choice of teenagers. It is true the BBC tries to hook the next generation of viewers and listeners but so they should."
"A show of hands at the end of the program to see how these young people might vote would be good," Bateman concluded.
The BBC program is to be broadcast in Scotland at 20:00 GMT.
A referendum, asking the people of Scotland whether they want their country to become independent from the United Kingdom, is scheduled at September 18.