UKIP to get dedicated BBC election programme – while Greens scramble for scraps

Photo: UKIP leader Paul Nuttall have a one-on-one interview with Andrew Neil, while the Greens will not. 

The Greens have slammed the BBC for denying the party coverage during the general election – despite UKIP getting a dedicated programme.

The BBC’s programming plan, announced yesterday, shows UKIP – which received far fewer votes in last week’s local elections – will be given an individual election programme, while the Greens are excluded.

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall will also be interviewed by BBC presenter Andrew Neil in one of a series of programmes throughout the week beginning May 22, despite Green Party leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley not being offered the same treatment.

However, Left Foot Forward has analysed the grounds for the decision – which appears to stem from the claims that:

“Parties with substantial levels of electoral support at local government level in England are: Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP.”

150,000 people voted Green at last week’s local elections, compared with fewer than 100,000 for UKIP.

Social media users accused the BBC of being ‘biased’ towards UKIP, with the hashtag #InviteTheGreens trending on social media networks. The hashtag was last popular when the Greens were initially excluded from the 2015 televised election debates – a decision which was later reversed.

The guidelines also state that:

“The Green Party, in demonstrating some electoral support at local elections, will normally receive more [coverage] than those parties with less evidence of past or current electoral support or fewer candidates.”

The BBC’s new programming schedule for the General Election arguably appear to contradict the corporation’s own guidelines.

Jonathan Bartley, Green Party co-leader, said:

“This is getting beyond a joke. The BBC’s love affair with UKIP is getting embarrassing and it is time it recognised that the Green Party is entitled to a fair hearing in its election programming.”

UKIP’s individual election programme will be recorded in Bristol – where the Greens’ Molly Scott Cato is the main challenger to Labour. She said:

“UKIP was wiped out in the local elections. They were left with just one seat and look to be heading to win one fewer than that in the general election yet the BBC, once again, confirms the Party will always have a safe seat in the corporation’s news studios.”

She added:

“That the BBC have chosen to broadcast the UKIP programme from Bristol just adds insult to injury. The Greens can win in Bristol. UKIP can’t.”

The BBC did not immediately comment on the exclusion of the Greens, but in a statement announcing the programme plan said:

“We have an exciting line up of special programmes over the General Election period…and [have] the right mix of people on air so they will reach out to all audiences who trust our impartial approach to news.”

The Greens will be taking part in a seven-way BBC election debate on 31 May in Cambridge, and a Newsbeat Youth debate in Manchester on 6 June – but will get no dedicated programme.

Josiah Mortimer is a reporter and Contributing Editor for Left Foot Forward. He also works for the Electoral Reform Society and tweets at @josiahmortimer.

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