THE BLOG

The Green Party Must Be in the Leaders Debates - Democracy Demands It

13/10/2014 13:05 BST | Updated 31/12/2014 09:59 GMT
Jeff Overs / BBC/PA Archive

Take a look at the montage on this Sky story about broadcasters' debates for the general election next year. There's Miliband, Cameron, Clegg and Farage, with a proposal for four, then three, then two of them participating in broadcast debates.

That's an untenable proposal. It would represent a huge failure by the broadcasters to meet the democratic aspirations of the British people and refusal to give voters a genuine opportunity for free choice in the elections.

Aside from the lack of representativeness of modern Britain politics in four men of frighteningly similar age and background - for which the broadcasters can't be blamed - there's the fact that one of their parties, the Liberal Democrats, are polling about the same as the Green Party and that the Green Party won significantly more votes, and three times as many seats, in the recent European elections (as well as outpolling the Lib Dems in the 2012 London elections).

The broadcasters are demonstrating that they are utterly out of touch with the public mood. They are clinging to the idea that the future of politics looks like the past, when the public are increasingly grasping that our triple crises - economic, social and environmental - demands new answers that the three business-as-usual parties have shown are beyond their understanding.

They are contributing to the further problem, of political trust and engagement. Voters reacted very positively when I said last week on Women's Hour that they're "fed up" - they want different ideas and policies, as a sold-out audience of 1,200 demonstrated at last week's People's Assembly Question Time.

The Green Party been pushing for months to be included in these debates, reflecting our steadily growing poll support, our soaring membership levels - up 52% from just the start of the year, with 1,000 new members in the past 10 days (with the Scottish Greens separately soaring even faster), and the fact that we support extraordinarily popular policies that are articulated by no other party.

Policies such as bringing the railways back into public hands, saying that the profit motive has no place in healthcare, that the poor and disadvantaged must not be made to pay for the fraud and errors of the bankers with the failed policy of austerity have extremely high levels of support. Only the Green Party is supporting these policies.

In the European election we got far more votes per minute of mainstream airtime than any other major party. Voters had to come looking for us, and they did.

The broadcasters are failing if they don't offer the Green Party option to voters who are clearly looking for it.

The Green Party must be in these debates. Democracy demands it.