Why it’s a disgrace that it took David Cameron threatening to back out for the Green Party to be invited to the leadership debates
Up until this week Ofcom had formally excluded the Green Party from the televised debates in the run up to the general election. Apparently, the Greens have not been considered a major party in the same way that UKIP have, as they have not ‘’secured sufficient support in previous elections and current opinion polls’’.
This seems far from the truth; not only do the Greens have an MP but they have nearly as many councillors as UKIP. Furthermore, they gained a higher share of votes in the European Parliament Elections than the Liberal Democrats did, and have just surpassed both the Lib Dems and UKIP in membership figures.
Even Cameron, whatever his reasons, spoke out against the exclusion saying ‘’they beat the Liberals in the European Elections; they have got a member of parliament. I don’t see any logical argument for excluding the Greens if you are going to include UKIP’’.
So, why then have the Greens been side-lined for so long, while UKIP have enjoyed not just an easy invite into the TV debates, but a vast amount of media coverage? Could it be a further example of the main stream media’s inability to recognise them as a legitimate challenge to the status quo, in continuously presenting them as a single- issue party? (PSA: they’re not). We can’t deny that the attention afforded to UKIP far surpasses that given to the Greens; for example, Nigel Farage has been a panellist on BBC’s Question time 25 times, with he and other UKIP representatives being invited to join more than double the amount of times the Greens were.
As far as I can tell, the reason for the media’s incessant obsession with covering both UKIP and their annoyingly charismatic leader, Farage, is the entertaining way in which he seems to oppose Westminster’s political climate. He’s like a bull they can throw right into the china shop; Farage is a well-spoken populist who knows how to control his media image, and distance himself from the private-school-educated-Bullingdon-club-initiated repetitive elite that voters struggle to identify with (Another PSA: emphasis on the ‘distance himself from’).
We’ve all heard of that Black Mirror episode right? Well Farage is Waldo: he speaks to the disillusioned mass of bored voters in a way they understand and find intriguing. I can’t blame media moguls for wanting them on; they want to produce television that people will keep watching, and in the case of UKIP, most people really can’t look away.
I’m not defending this attitude, but suggesting that the Green Party have unfortunately not been afforded the same luxury. Without a doubt, more people would recognise an image of Farage than they would Natalie Bennett. Not because UKIP have exhausted themselves with gritty campaigning, but because they have been given more airtime, more interviews, and more attention.
Inclusion of UKIP without inclusion of the Greens would dramatically move discourse to the right of the political spectrum; an unrepresentative portrayal of the voting habits of the British public. Hopefully I’m not the only one who becomes slightly offended at the thought of a party who seek to undermine the progress done in legalising gay marriage for example, being given more attention than one developing policies aimed at political and environmental stability for future generations.