On any objective test the Green Party should be in the leaders’ debates

Yesterday the broadcasters unveiled a proposal for televised leaders’ debates that fails basic tests of fairness and balance.

Yesterday the broadcasters unveiled a proposal for televised leaders’ debates that fails basic tests of fairness and balance

So this is what British politics on TV in the twenty-first century is supposed to look like? Four middle-aged white men arguing over whose turn it is to rearrange the deckchairs as the Titanic sinks?

Whatever qualities David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage may have, the public does not think they represent the diversity of modern Britain. It does journalism a disservice to pretend that they do – the public are not fools.

We can either have a real debate, with all strands of political opinion represented, or we can have another establishment charade that will see the public turning off in droves.

Yesterday the broadcasters unveiled a ludicrous proposal for televised leaders’ debates that fails basic tests of fairness and balance. The so-called 2-3-4 format allows different shades of the British establishment free airtime while excluding those who disagree with their politics of austerity. It is neither a reflection of modern Britain nor an aid to the free and fair elections that twenty-first century democracy demands.

The Green Party has to be in there, if for no other reason than to show that there is a genuine choice on offer in this election. You can either plump for business-as-usual, as expressed through the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour or UKIP, or you can vote for the real change that we offer.

Whether it’s a £10 minimum wage, keeping the NHS in public hands, bringing the railways back into public ownership or stopping runaway climate change – the Greens offer a distinctive voice that millions of Britons support.

We’ve also earned our right to sit at the top table the hard way – by building up our membership and staying true to our values. We’re not funded by tax-dodging millionaires and we never will be.

Voters increasingly recognise that the Green Party is different. Our policies are made by our members, not by focus groups or newspaper tycoons. We campaign for what is right and fair, not what is easy or fleetingly popular. We aren’t afraid to stand up to the mighty and the powerful and we aren’t embarrassed to speak out on behalf of those whose voices have been stifled.

On any objective test the Green Party should be in the leaders’ debates. UKIP has had an MP for about five minutes; by May 2015 we’ll have had Caroline Lucas in the House of Commons for five years. The Lib Dems are slated for two debates yet we comprehensively beat them in the European Elections this May – winning three times as many seats and 150,000 more votes. General Election opinion polls put us neck-and-neck with the junior Coalition partners. And when the public get to hear about Green policies they prefer them to the alternatives.

So broadcasters can keep moving the goalposts to shut us out but we are not going to go away.

Since they published their proposals yesterday there has been an explosion of public support for us. Whether natural Green voters or not, people do not like the idea of closing down discussion and debate. With traditional party loyalties fragmenting at an unprecedented rate the electorate want to see the full range of views on offer.

We live in an era of multi-party politics. The broadcasters need to accept that or get out of the way.

Natalie Bennett is leader of the Green Party

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29 Responses to “On any objective test the Green Party should be in the leaders’ debates”

  1. Selohesra

    Why not two debates – one with the two potential PMs Ed & Dave and a second with UKIP/Greens/Nats/Libs ie potential coalition partners at best. Perhaps second group should have two debates as share of time will be less than first debate where they both get ~ 50% each

  2. David Lindsay

    We only ever have these things in Britain because “they have them in America”, a non-argument advanced in all sorts of causes by people who think that it is unanswerable, rather than merely unworthy of a response.

    Look what has been done to our foreign policy. Look what is being done to our NHS.

    With the re-election of the incumbent at Clacton, the only candidate with whom UKIP could have won the seat, there are now 12 parties in the House of Commons, of which three have precisely one seat apiece.

    One of those three outpolled the Liberal Democrats at this year’s European Elections, while one of the other nine has more members than the Lib Dems (and far more than UKIP).

    Not only would the necessary debates with six participants on each side of the moderator last for four, five or six hours, but they would look like the Last Supper, at least as depicted by Leonardo da Vinci.

    The last experiment of this kind gave this country a hung Parliament, and thus The Orange Book as the basis of the most viciously right-wing government since the War, a government for which nobody had voted.

    Never again.

  3. swat

    Sorry to say, but Natlaie will go down like a lead balloon because of her Aussie accent; she’ll put more potential voters off than put them on the Green list.
    But its good to see at least one woman in the debates. And one moderator Julie Etchingham.
    Very few are going to say I agree with Ed, who is not that good at communicating down the Tube like Nick was. Its

  4. Foullaini

    We only need one debate, UKIP vs Greens.

    Nigel and that annoying Aussie bird embody the two opposing philosophies battling it out in this country, the rest of them just steal their clothes as they can.

  5. littleoddsandpieces

    The Greens do not realise that they have a whole swathe of policies now that help the over 50s, the most prolific voters.

    As over half of over 50s are within the working poor and unemployed, and the majority reason not in work is due to being disabled / chronic sick, then these are millions of voters for The Greens, if they but grouped their policies and promoted them that are issues of interest to that age group.

    In amongst the over 50s, are the huge number of women who are early retied in lieu of redundancy due to the over million austerity job cuts in the public sector done or due. The average women’s public sector works pensions is between £2,000 and £5,000 a year, so far below any living income.

    The Greens offer a universal Citizen Income, non-withdrawable, that will be at the rate of the basic income tax.

    Nowhere in their policies can I see if someone early retired and below the raised retirement age, will get a pro rata Citizen Income, as that is described only as a replacement for most benefits.

    Because the Citizen Income is listed by The Greens’ policy as dealing with the basic income tax allowance and all income above that will be liable to income tax, so pushing a small works pension into being taxed into nothing.

    That is unless the basic tax allowance is raised well above the other parties’ offering of £12,500 a year and above.

    Someone living at home has the cost most of the year of heating their home all day. People over 70 need one room heated to 70F all day as cannot generate their own body heat.

    The raised retirement age is moral theft of state pension payout because the ring fenced National Insurance Fund has been full for decades, not needing a top up from tax. As the NI Fund is not a tax, it cannot be used by government for general expenditure.


    The Greens say the National Insurance Fund will end and the state pension will be funded by tax. But there is no mention of bringing back the 1975 Labour that guaranteed pension payout, which the Tories abolished in 1993, and Labour did not bring back in 13 years of rule.

    If Ms Natalie Bennett answered these queries, there would not need to be a televised debate, as The Greens would have passed Labour and UKIP combined already.

  6. Steven Anderson

    ‘The’ Greens are not a UK party, which disqualifies them, along with the other ‘regional’ parties like the SNP and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Greens. Disappointing that Greens can be as anglocentric as the Establishment.

  7. john p reid

    Stand by for Ed saying I agree with Nigel and Natalie

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    That’s fine, but don’t complain when people call you out on i.e. energy pricing.

    Saying “insulate” to people who can’t afford to turn the heating on as it is…

  9. Jacques Strap

    Since when did the greens get 25% in a national opinion poll and win a national election?

    They may rule Brighton, but they are insignificant elsewhere.

    UKIP has the potential to win dozens of seats and influence hundreds. I dont see the greens ever doing that.

  10. Jacques Strap

    A bit scared are we? Farage would destroy Milliband and you know it.

  11. ematter

    “And that purple arrow should be a purple pen** on Farage’s head.”

    It is estimated we derive around 25% GDP from the EU, and that is only going up (obviously accounting for the financial crises – do I really need to clarify that for UKIP)!

    Most EU Immigrants work, contribute to our economy, NHS and tax.
    I agree with those that demand a higher minimum wage, removal of zero hour contracts, tighter controls / heavier fines on illegal labour, and to build more houses.

    I really DO NOT CARE if people speak English, Polish or even French, as long as they can speak English at work, and obey the law!

    I am tired of hearing drunk illiterate English idiots who have never worked a day in their life, complaining about EU migrants! Those lazy bums grow old on the state and collect a pension on the state, then raise hell about people that actually work!

    The fact is that for every job taken by an EU worker, another job is created! END OF!

    So if your beef is no one is speaking English, then “GET SOME CULTURE, BE FRIENDLY” while you can, because when the EU picks, which it will, that will change.

    In the mean time, we should build house, create jobs, bring in more business… because when the EU recovers – we want to have the business ready to meet demand – which the rest of the EU “will not be able to do”!

    This is important because “GOVERNMENT DEBT IS STILL GOING UP!!!”, and yes that is “REALLY BAD!!!”. You can hear some Muppet complaining how there is not “LIVING SPACE”… well we live in a top heavy demography with no money to spend on infrastructure, because we gave it all to the very rich bankers. STILL if you want to commute, the get a lovely house in the country side and commute, BUT if you live in the fricken city, that is what a FRICKEN CITY LOOKS LIKE!

    Now a little message to UKIP – “STOP MARGINALISING THE VULNERABLE” to get bigoted little morons onto their narrow understanding of political correctness. Politicians serve the public, so we expect them to be politically correct! UNDERSTAND! It is not complicated!

    Many people in the world hold Britain in high regard, and UKIP is making us look like a bunch of red necks!

  12. David Lindsay

    And still come out of it with no MPs.

    These things may or may not make good television, but they have absolutely nothing to do with British politics.

  13. David Lindsay

    UKIP has the potential to win dozens of seats

    Oh, puh-lease! If you get two, then you will have had a staggeringly good night. You will almost certainly get none.

  14. ematter

    Many GREEN voters see the EU as a means to tackle global issues such as Global Warming, so an over representation of UKIP would be completely undemocratic!

  15. David Lindsay

    If they do see that, then they are deluded on more than one front. But by all means let us have the debate.

  16. ematter

    It would be deluded to think that because we are ultra green, so will the rest of the world. Sadly you need to have cooperation and muscle. The EU is the most powerful economic entity on the planet, so that would be the muscle.

  17. David Lindsay

    As I say, by all means let us have the debate.

    TTIP is the EU, exactly as the Left has been saying since the 1950s.

  18. ematter

    TTIP reflects EU muscle to influence the US, but the EU “as a pure economic entity” is vastly greater.

    The US may be weaker than the EU economically, but it is stronger militarily.

  19. GhostofJimMorrison

    ‘Still, we need to approach the problem with a level head’,

    And referring to UKIP voters as bigoted little morons is level-headed? Grow up.

  20. ematter

    You reference the line: “STOP MARGINALISING THE VULNERABLE”

  21. GhostofJimMorrison

    What?? Is that you, Leon?

  22. Julia

    The SNP has 6 MP’s and are therefore ahead of the Greens regarding entitlement.
    In case some raises the issue about being a “national party”
    The Greens are not a UK Party either. They are quite distinct from the Scottish Greens.

  23. Selohesra

    SNP not currently relevant to England & Wales so hard to justify inclusion in UK debate – however were they to stand in English constituencies they should clearly be a part – & I suspect were they to do so they would gain rather a lot of votes both for their policies and also from English Nats who would feel their best hope of self rule was encouraging further Scottish self rule

  24. Selohesra

    SNP not currently relevant to England & Wales so hard to justify inclusion in UK debate – however were they to stand in English constituencies they should clearly be a part – & I suspect were they to do so they would gain rather a lot of votes both for their policies and also from English Nats who would feel their best hope of self rule was encouraging further Scottish self rule

  25. swat

    Struth Nat, stop dishing the Co-operative Party; we should be working together.

  26. Guest

    Everyone’s “Leon” to you, LordBlagger. It’s sad.

  27. Leon Wolfeson

    No, TTIP is being pushed by elements of the EU, from the EU Council – the governments of the nation-states, and especially the British government.

    If it is to be defeated, it will be in the EU Parliament.

    Your narrative is simplistic.

  28. Leon Wolfeson

    Sounds reasonable to me.

  29. Leon Wolfeson

    And one trump card, which overrides them all, which is that they’ll leave them with the heating off.

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