For a party which polled third in the London Mayoral election last year, which has 140 Councillors, and which boasts an MP and two MEPs, it’s fair to say the Greens are widely ignored in the mainstream media.
When it comes to the General Election debates, this couldn’t be more stark. As the Lib Dems’ support collapses amid a rising UKIP and a growing Green Party edging into the Lib Dem support base, the need for more than the ‘main three’ to be featured in the TV debates of 2015 and beyond is pretty clear.
So the University of York Green Party, and the Young Greens nationally, are spearheading a new e-petition to demand the Greens have a slot in the General Election debates. 2015 isn’t so far away, and as more and more people become disillusioned with the mainstream parties, it’s vital more voices are heard, lest turnout tumble ever lower, and more and more lose faith in politics altogether.
UoY Green Party Treasurer and former Chair, Lisa Camps, created the petition, which smashed through the 1000 barrier in its first couple of days and has now hit two and a half thousand signatures. The petition has been widely covered on the internet, including the most read progressive blog in the country, Liberal Conspiracy, and the biggest Green blog, Bright Green.
But why now? The inspiration stemmed from a poll released at the end of January by Angus Reid Public Opinion, which showed 54% of the public want the Greens to appear in the General Election TV debates. That’s 54% compared to a small number against, and a large chunk of ‘undecided’ or ’don’t knows’. Encouraging stuff.
The petition states “we feel it is right and in keeping with the democratic principles this country upholds that a representative of the Green Party be invited to take part, broadening the debate and presenting the electorate with a greater political spectrum with which to engage”. If an e-petition amasses 100,000 signatures, the subject will be considered for debate in Parliament. Whether it will get to this number probably isn’t the point – the petition is a fantastic awareness raiser and could show the media the strength of opinion on the matter. At 10,000 signatures, petitions are eligible for an official response.
Lisa Camps is also Press Officer of the Young Greens nationally, and commented, “Voter turnout is dismal at the moment, but what do you expect when you can barely tell the difference between the three biggest parties? Including the Green Party in the debate will broaden what’s on offer to the electorate, and give the opportunity to consider alternative ideas. People are frustrated with the status quo, it’s time for a fresh approach to politics”.
If you’re wondering why we’re not demanding UKIP a seat in the debates too, they’ve already got their own campaign, and with the current rate the Green Party petition is growing, we look set to overtake them.
You can sign and share the e-petition here. And if you’re on Twitter, you can also sign up to the ‘Thunderclap’ here to get the petition trending- it’s already surpassed its target, with over 150 people now taking part, but you can still join to spread the word. Liven up our stagnant politics – get the Greens on the General Election debates!
Image caption: Will we be seeing Natalie Bennett alongside the other leaders in the next election debates? © Press Association; Image credit: Max Nash
This post by the University of York Green Party was originally published as a column in The Yorker.