THE BLOG

Sign Me Up: The Green Surge Is a Generation's Call for Change

19/01/2015 14:51 GMT | Updated 18/03/2015 09:59 GMT

Last week I spotted an image on Twitter which showed MPs debating over higher education funding, a massive issue which has loaded my cohort of fellow students with unpayable debts and turned universities across the country into fees-obsessed factories.

Unsurprisingly, I could count the number of MPs debating the issue on one hand, sadly just another proof of mainstream politics being utterly unconcerned with representing the voice of young people.

As a student at Bristol University, I live in a constituency strongly contested by the Green Party, and, other than the one or two students I know who are members of the two main political parties, almost everyone is planning to vote Green.

The Government's appalling treatment of young voters is evident from tuition fees to mental health services, which this week were revealed to have seen spending cuts every year since the coalition came to power. Students have been pushed away from the main parties and have found their political voice in the Green wave, a party which is speaking to their views on education, the environment and society.

The Green surge is still in its infancy, but it is being driven by a combination of environmentalists, disillusioned students and disgruntled voters up and down the country who want their views to be properly represented in parliament.

It has now been reported that Green membership has soared past 43,000 members with the party claiming to have added more than 2,000 members in one day and showing the party has national support, which puts Ofcom's draft ruling on excluding the Green party from the general election TV debates into question.

From the BBC to Sky, broadcasters seem to maintain an obsession with UKIP and a seeming desire to court controversy. Giving constant air time to seasoned Eurosceptic and well-known pub enthusiast Nigel Farage has led to a manipulation of democracy that has seen the Greens wrongly excluded. Shockingly the party which is the second most popular with young and first time voters goes unrepresented in the TV debates, despite of many of the major broadcasters running campaigns which express the aim of encouraging young people into politics.

Yet in spite of all this, being ignored hasn't stopped the Green surge, it has redoubled the efforts of its supporters. Relentless social media campaigning has seen the growth of a campaign in digital democracy which saw Green Party membership overtake that of UKIP one day after it was reported they were close to overtaking them. Reports are even now emerging that their membership has passed that of the Liberal Democrats.

It is clearer than ever that the Greens deserve to be included in at least one of the TV debates. The mainstream media has repeatedly looked for excuses not to include representation from the Greens, even though they have national representation in Westminster, the Scottish Parliament and the European Parliament. Crucially, without a strong environmental voice in Parliament, Britain will avoid its commitments to climate change and continue to undermine its young voters.

The Green surge is good for democracy, it has engaged first time voters like myself as well as thousands of others. Pictures posted on Twitter by the Exeter Student Union this week showed massive queues as students flocked to hear Green leader Natalie Bennett speak, proof that they the party is engaging new voters.

Ultimately, if Green MPs are elected at University towns across the country we will see more diversity and a more representative Parliament, vital for keeping our democracy healthy and progressive.

Large numbers of students who step out to vote in May will be giving serious consideration to the Green party and we will almost certainly see some close run contests. For students, this is our chance to ride a tide of change and democratic participation. We must embrace it, and the Green party can sign me up.