The Green Party has called on other political parties to support their bid to be involved in TV debates in the run up to the general election in May following a decision by Ofcom that would see them excluded.
In a letter to Labour leader Ed Miliband, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the Greens urge them to agree to the presence of the Greens in one of the three debates.
The letter follow media regulator Ofcom publishing its consultation on the political parties it lists as ‘major parties’ ahead of the general election. The list is important in regulating election coverage.
The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats were already listed as major parties and Ofcom stated that UKIP might qualify for the status but that the Green Party has not secured sufficient support. The Greens stated that were “disappointed” with the decision, noting that some polls put them ahead of the Lib Dems.
Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives David Cameron responded by saying he would not take part in the TV debates if the Greens were not involved. He said, “You can’t have one minor party without having another minor party and I think that’s only fair.”
The letter, signed by Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, says, “The proposal put forward by the broadcasters for the 2015 election debates have yet to win the acceptance of all the party leaders, and this puts the whole process at risk. In particular, Prime Minister David Cameron has now stated categorically and repeatedly that he will not participate if the Green Party is excluded.
“Staging debates without the Prime Minster might score a point but would not serve the public, who rightly expect political parties and broadcasters to find a format that is acceptable to all concerned.”
It continues that accepting the Greens as part of the debate process serves both “democracy and the electorate best”. The letter also notes that in discussions with ITV it has been made clear that the broadcaster has yet to reach a final decision on which parties they will invite and if other political parties indicated they were open to the inclusion of the Greens the party feels ITV would respond.
Bennett concluded, “I hope you will agree that the presence of the Greens in one of the debates will also enrich the process by drawing a wider range of views about the future of our country, and also appeal to a wider audience – particularly amongst young people.”
Photo: Edinburgh Greens via Flickr