ITV’s leaders debate will feature the three main party leaders – David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage.
It’s hard to argue that Farage shouldn’t be included, however you feel about the man and his party. With an MP in parliament, UKIP is now a legitimate part of our government and there is no reason why their views should be censored. Like the rest of us, they are entitled to free speech.
Now, lest we forget, the Green Party also has an MP in the House of Commons, three MEPs, two MSPs, two London Assembly members and a member of the House of Lords. They, however, have been excluded from ITV’s leadership debate. Why?
Writing for the New Statesman, Willard Foxton suggested that it is simply that the Green Party is lacking media savvy. Their PR operation simply isn’t good enough and it does not equal that of UKIP.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Hove and Brighton Pavilion and former leader of the Green Party, has stated on Twitter that she had been told that it would be ”messy’ to have too many candidates’. Is five candidates really ‘too many’? Are MPs really that bad at debating? Unlikely.
The Green Party is a part of the operation which runs our country and their views should be heard.
The viewing public deserve to be able to make a choice informed by knowledge of the widest range of candidates possible. Ignoring a party with thousands of voters and actual MPs is irresponsible and unfair.
Whilst they are not polling as high as UKIP, the Greens are showing similar numbers to the Liberal Democrats, who are, of course, included in the debate as represented by the much beleaguered Nick Clegg.
If we are going to cover a party like UKIP, it is only fair that we also cover the other side of the coin. The Green Party has been here for while and it’s not going away. Neither is UKIP.
By excluding either party from the debates, programmers are deciding which parties to legitimise and which to exclude. That is a decision which they do not have the right to make.
ITV isn’t looking to host a legitimate debate between a range of parties that represent the different facets of political opinion in the UK (which is, by the way, what they should be doing). They are looking for ratings and that is what, with their surprisingly effective media operations, UKIP will bring.
Including the Green Party would not only provide a fairer representation of current political opinion in the United Kingdom, it would also prevent a male-only debate.