19 January 2015
A campaign to improve diversity in TV political coverage saw a breakthrough this week. David Cameron declared that The Green Party must be included in UK TV leaders debates if he were to attend. The Prime Minister told the BBC, “The Greens have a member of parliament, they beat the Liberal Democrats in the last national election – the European Elections, so I don’t see how you can have UKIP and not the Greens. That is my very strong opinion.”
Mr Cameron’s actions may be highly tactical, but it’s evidence that the rapidly growing Green Party membership (it has more than doubled in the last year) and viral Twitter campaigns such as#InviteTheGreens, are pressuring the major parties and TV networks to be inclusive of The Green Party and their policies.
More than 275k people signed a Change.org petition to Ofcom, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky to include the Green Party in TV panels ahead of the 2015 General Election, but so far Ofcom still haven’t given The Green Party the ‘major party’ status needed for comparable election coverage. In Ofcom's draft ruling last week they also stated that UKIP, who now have less members than the Greens, “may qualify for major party status in England and Wales”.
We saw some significant developments after the petition was launched by Green Party member Robyn Meadwell in October 2014:
• An ICM opinion poll before Christmas found that 79% of the public want to see The Green Party included in the ITV leaders’ debate (the one that includes Nigel Farage).
• A consortium of The Guardian, The Telegraph and YouTube have invited the Green Party and the four other main parties to take part in an online leaders’ debate. The Green Party have already accepted this invitation.
• Natalie Bennett wrote a letter to Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, urging them to support the fairer broadcasting format that the majority of the British public want to see. http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2015/01/14/letter-from-natalie-bennett-to-ed-miliband,-nick-clegg-and-nigel-farage/
Your chance to help
Ofcom haven’t yet made a final decision, and have asked the public for their views. If you’re a Green Party supporter or just believe in a fair representation of politics in the media, now’s your chance to tell Ofcom your opinion. Respond to Ofcom’s ‘Major Parties 2015 consultation’ here: stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/major-parties-15/howtorespond/form
Alex Watts - Prospective Councillor for Ashby Ward, Charnwood Borough Council
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