The Green Party Should Not Be Included in the 2015 General Election Debates

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The past few weeks have witnessed an ever -increasing clamour from those calling for the Green Party to be included in the 2015 General Election debates. But these calls are more to do with political preferences, rather than logical thinking.

I am in no way prejudiced against the Green party; I just believe that, primarily, as they are not going to field candidates nationwide, the party should not be included in nationwide TV debates.

Let us be clear; the Green Party are a viable alternative for many who are disillusioned with the current positions of the other main parties, as well as possessing policies which a considerable number of people find attractive. But the fact of the matter is that you could include the Respect Party, or, by extension, even the disgusting BNP, with that assessment. But what ties these parties together is their lack of national representation.

There are those who make the argument that it is somehow anti-democratic to not include a party with an MP in Parliament. If we used this line of argument, the list of parties that we would have to include in the debates that are currently not included are as follows: The Green Party, the DUP, Sinn Fein, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, the Alliance Party, the Respect Party and one independent candidate. If all or even a few of those listed were included, the debates would become messy affairs with no proper argument.

What these parties have in common is that they did not field anywhere approaching 650 candidates in the 2010 election, nor will they do so in the 2015 election. Indeed, the Greens hope to include, at a push, candidates in ‘3 out of 4’ seats. UKIP, on the other hand, who have often been used as justification for appeals for the Greens to be included, are fielding candidates in every seat in the 2015 election – a nationwide representation. How is it viable to suggest that a party should be included in a national television debate when significant portions of the country will not be able to vote for that party? The answer is that it isn’t.

So, why else are so many people suddenly clamouring for the inclusion of the Greens?

Certainly a dislike for UKIP is a factor, but those claiming that it is anti-democratic for them to be included only have to take a look at recent opinion polling. You just have to take a look at numerous opinion polls to see that UKIP is comfortably the third party. However, excluding freak outliers, the Green party remain well behind the ever-unpopular Lib Dems. One may then point to the results of the European elections from earlier this year as support for their argument. Whilst it is true that the Greens had approximately 200,000 more votes and two MEPs more than the Lib Dems, on that basis, why was it not ‘undemocratic’ not to include the repulsive BNP, who won nearly 1 million votes and 2 MEP’s in the 2009 European elections, in the 2010 debates? It seems that political preferences have got in the way of ‘democracy’.

I can hear those who are reading this article pointing out that the Greens gained more votes in the 2014 elections than the Liberal Democrats, and should be included on that basis. Well, first: it seems that the same people who are downplaying the importance of the European elections when addressing UKIP’s rise are using this to argue the Greens’ way into the TV debates – you can’t be selective about results and importance, you either accept the election, or not at all! Second, the Liberal Democrats are a party of Government, to exclude them would be ridiculous.

This issue is much greater than the results of one opinion poll, which is most likely an anomaly, and selective conclusions being drawn from one election.

Four people shouting at each other is already enough!

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Deputy Editor of the Wessex Scene for 2015/16. I often write News, Politics and Opinion pieces. As well as writing for the Scene I can be found in the Surge Radio studio, where I am the Head of News. Also, as I'm new to twitter and desperate, follow me!! @95moliver

Discussion19 Comments

  1. avatar

    I guess a lot of people are concerned with the huge amount of news coverage that some parties get in comparison to others, and how the TV debates could easily exacerbate things. By not being included in debates, it’s almost acknowledging them as less valid then other parties, and this could dissuade people from voting for them.

    Michael Oliver
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    Would you say the SNP or Respect are less valid just because they aren’t included in the debates? I’m just saying that the Green Party are in no way less valid then any other party, they’re jut smaller. Heck, even the monster raving loonies are a legitimate party 🙂

  2. avatar

    if a party is ‘too small’ to be included in TV debates, then would it ever be able to gain the popularity of the ‘included’ parties, and can’t that be interpreted as deliberate suppression of political competition? Certainly the parties with at least 1 MP should be allowed to participate in debates on TV.

    Michael Oliver
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    It hasn’t stopped UKIP from becoming so popular – they weren’t involved in the 2010 debates.

  3. avatar

    This is a fairly subjective issue, as in reality there are no fixed definitions of how a party is selected for the tv debates. If the Monster-Raving Loony party were to field candidates for all 650 seats around the UK, then they wouldn’t suddenly get a place in the debate – so that alone isn’t the factor.

    One thing is for sure, the Green party have been getting a minuscule amount of media coverage, considering they are currently polling 4th, ahead of the Lib Dems! – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/10/20/green-party-surges-past-l_n_6017094.html

    Most people who support the Green Party having a place in the debates are arguing for it as an additional seat, rather than kicking out UKIP or Lib Dems. I haven’t seen a good argument for why 5 is too many.

    Michael Oliver
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    I’m certainly not arguing that national representation is the only factor; just a pretty major one. And as for your point about the Green Party not getting enough media coverage, UKIP have only got media coverage BECAUSE of their popularity – so maybe the Green Party PR team need to have a long look at themselves.

    S
    avatar

    M Oliver – Simply not true that media coverage of UKIP has not helped build support for them, maybe you should actually look into how disproportionately the BBC were covering UKIP during the build up to the euro elections and how much air time they got compared to other parties before making lazy comments like that. Green party are shut out of media for obvious reasons, please see my comment further down.

    Michael Oliver
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    Why were the BBC covering UKIP in the European elections? Because the polls were consistently showing signs that they would win overall before campaigning started.

    S
    avatar

    Do the BBC not have a democratic responsibility to cover all parties then? How can a party gain support if it isn’t covered at all in the mainstream media.

    You do realize the mainstream media is owned by a small number of rich individuals and they set the tone for what is reported on, they set the level for the scope of debate. Can you not see how influential media coverage is over people? If the bloody threat of immigration and terrorism wasn’t shoved down everybody’s throats by the mainstream media then there wouldn’t be support for parties such as UKIP in the first place.

    Did you listen to the LBC radio interview with a UKIP supporter who couldn’t name a single policy or even say what they stand for other than anti-immigration? That itself is the complete crux of the argument – people don’t really support UKIP, they don’t even know what UKIP stand for, they’ve just been riled into hatred and fear by the media and convinced that they must support UKIP! UKIP have been allowed to gain support by latching onto a certain buzztopic – ‘immigration’ – that the mainstream media have been scaremongeringly forcing in our faces for a long time – they’ve convinced you you need to worry about immigration and so you do, and now you have a party to vote for that they’re shoveling in your faces too, as the answer to those worries! In this sense not only have the media consolidated support for UKIP, they’ve CREATED it! If you did listen to that radio interview you’ll know that the highest UKIP support comes from areas where there is virtually NO immigration, and that should really underline to you what the media have managed to do; they’ve managed to convince people that they should be scared of something that is of absolutely no consequence to them at all! Genuis! And now of course UKIP get extensive media coverage – a party who scapegoat an immigration policy (something we’ve been convinced we need to worry about) to hide their right-wing, corporate elitist agenda – an agenda favorable to guess who? The rich individuals who run the mainstream media! Sounds like a set-up? Probably because it is! What a surprise UKIP just happen to have been awarded a place on the BBC TV debates! It all works out so perfectly, and the best part is, nobody knows they’re getting played.

  4. avatar

    You’re an idiot. If the Lib Dems are included then so should the Greens be, because they beat them by far in the European elections and have been polling equally to them recently, on rare occasions even ahead! Also, The Greens have an MP and have done for four years, where as UKIP only recently gained their first MP because some ex tory changed his allegiance and got re-elected locally- so UKIP have NO seats that were earned in the last general election. What you were saying about other parties like the SNP, Sien Feinn ect, isn’t really relevant because they are parties which have policies regarding one specific country within the union- they want independence for their individual countries and are not as interested on policies at a union level- not at all similar to the Greens who have a manifesto and policies relevant to the entire union, and very good policies at that! Also you seem to be misunderstanding the fact that the BBC’s (and all other media outlets for that matter) arse licking’ UKIP coverage has greatly CONTRIBUTED to their popularity, if anything SOLIDIFIED and ENCOURAGED it, and so the argument that their popularity means they should be included by the BBC in the debate is really self-defeating. If The Greens were given even a fraction of the media coverage that UKIP have been getting they’d be a lot more popular than they currently are, one look at their manifesto would tell you that!! Instead they are covered by the media as a flimsy, unrealistic, bourgeois protest vote and therefore are never given the chance to get their feet off the ground! Although, of course, it’s not in the interests of the corporate media to let them gain support; after all they’re the only party who seriously oppose the current status-quo! From the sounds of this article, however, you’ve been fooled (along with a lot of the public) into thinking UKIP, a party led by an ex-public school boy city banker and funded by one billionaire, somehow represents the people and is going to bring about the change we need. The BBC have a social and democratic responsibility to cover the Greens, but they never will, because they do not represent their interests as a corporation, but instead represent the interests of ordinary people – instead they shove UKIP down our throats under the pretense of an ‘alternative’ when in reality UKIP want to continue to defend the interests of the corporate elite to the detriment of ordinary working people, just in a more right-wing, racist way.

    Michael Oliver
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    As it’s a long comment, I’ll break it down:
    First; I wasn’t aware that disagreeing with your point of view made me an idiot. I suppose I could only thank you for not using more colourful language. That epitomised the classic stance of ‘intolerant tolerance’.

    You are de-legitimising an elected MP, and to an extent, the people of Clacton, just to fit your own rose-tinted viewpoint. It was a legitimate by-election. I’ve kept policy out of what I’ve written, but to disregard an MP simply due to the party he represents shows idiocy. If Douglas Carswell had defected to the Greens, I can guarantee you wouldn’t be complaining. The Greens were also elected locally.

    The SNP have threatened legal action regarding their non-participation in the national debates, just like the Greens, so the point I made is completely relevant.

    I can guarantee that if the Green Party were as popular as UKIP, they would be in similar levels of coverage. The BBC is an impartial media organisation, not like the Mirror, Sun or the Daily Mail. The Greens are currently polling at approximately 5%. I don’t recall the ‘arse licking’ by the BBC and others for UKIP when they were polling 5%.

    As for the Greens being more popular: in your opinion. Unfortunately, your voice cannot speak for millions of people, despite an potential delusions that it does so.

    Policy is not a feature in this article. I’m not trying to convince you of anything apart from the non-inclusion of the Greens in the TV debates. I’m not going to have a political argument with you.

    It seems as if you’ve looked at the article, seen the title and ‘UKIP’ and gone on a political rant with no proper relevance to the article above. Your love for the Greens and hatred of UKIP seem to have blinded your sense of reason, and permitted you (in your opinion) to rant about the ‘ex-public school city banker’ Farage, and his party in general (as a disclaimer, I would never consider voting UKIP).

    Unfortunately, any chance of a well-structured comment from yourself has been wiped out by your blinkered political views. If UKIP and the Greens had swapped positions, you would be completely agreeing with my argument. Please don’t turn a legitimate argument regarding the TV debates to (yet another!!) UKIP-focussed comment.

    S
    avatar

    Sorry but this comment smacks of ignorance; you think the BBC are totally impartial and don’t have political allegiance? They are a corporation with corporate interests, surely you can see that? Just because they present themselves under the guise of a ‘national service’ it does not mean they are impartial, just look at any mainstream BBC news coverage; they have a corporate agenda and they stick to it – hence why we never see anything really politically provocative or heavily critical of the government on the BBC. Alas, this is something you need to learn on your own, maybe analyse their reporting a little more critically instead of swallowing it unquestioningly 🙂

    Caroline Lucas won her seat for the Greens in a general election, she wasn’t elected at a by-election, unsure what made you think otherwise.

    I’m not de-legitimizing him, but when a party who has had an MP for four years who was elected at a general election is being excluded and a UKIP who have only recently gained one through less democratic means (we all know much fewer people vote in by-elections) then I think it’s a point worth mentioning.

    Ah again you’re ignoring the fact that coverage breeds support. This point is self-explanatory and I really don’t need to go through it again, i’m not saying all their support has come from here, sure, but BBC coverage of UKIP has been unfair; they were covered ALOT more during the European elections than the other three MAIN parties. If you were watching the election night coverage you would have seen they spent almost the entire time talking about UKIP despite them coming third! You may have also seen the leader of the SNP at the time Alex Salmond complaining about the disproportionate UKIP coverage. But if you still persist in believing the BBC is entirely unbiased and their coverage of UKIP has not encouraged any support then there’s nothing I can say to change your mind, I invite you again to look into it.

    I take it in your eyes the only people who would complain about the BBC coverage are people who love the Greens and are so blinded by their love that they can’t see clearly but that’s simply not the case; over 1,200 people have taken the time to complain to the BBC about this issue, not out of passion for the Greens but because they feel that it’s undemocratic to not represent them for all the reasons I’ve mentioned previously. Also, as a humanitarian surely you’d be in favor of a party who have policies such as non-privatization of the NHS, Re-nationalization of the railways, Robin Hood tax ect being allowed to get their voice heard by the people they’re trying to represent and help -the most vulnerable people, poor people ect – who otherwise wouldn’t know about them. If the BBC is a truly democratic organisation then it has a responsibility to give all parties the chance to have their voices heard and allow the voters an accurate picture of what’s on offer rather than giving them the impression their options are limited to four parties, none of who want to devote themselves wholeheartedly to helping the people who need it most, or shake up the status-quo at all.

  5. avatar

    My main argument in favour of including the Greens is to provide a better representation of the political spectrum. Both the Tories and UKIP are avowedly right-wing, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats are at best centrists. The Green Party is the largest party on the left wing – i.e. in opposition to the neoliberal economic orthodoxy – and thus not including them will make the debates worthless. As Chomsky said, ‘The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum’

    Michael Oliver
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    My argument is not based on policy, only practicalities, logic and sense. How can a party be included in a NATIONAL debate when they are not available nationally?

    Chris Wright
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    Ah, I see. Well, in that case, your logic is flawless. However, restricting the argument to a single point, one which you know you will win, isn’t really any way of having a constructive debate, now, is it?

  6. avatar

    Michael Oliver. Four parties all shouting rubbish at each other is certainly not enough. We need a party that stands for real change and the Greens are it. Furthermore, if you’re going to discuss the phenomenon of being selective – you might want to also take a look at the mainstream media’s selectivity. Oh, and one more thing – you ask, why else are so many people suddenly clamouring for the inclusion of the Greens? The clue is in the title… people are suddenly clamouring for the inclusion of the Greens, full stop. That’s democracy, as you say, it’s about more than just a vote every four years. Which means that eventually, the BBC will have to listen.

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