How the media plan to cover the Green Party in the election, and what you can do about it.

19 January 2015

The BBC and the Office of Communications regulatory body enter election seasons by establishing guidelines on how the parties are to be treated in coverage. Those parties defined as “major” are treated like contenders in the election and those defined as “minor” as curiosities. In addition to the televised debates which are currently making so much news, the major parties have the right to two Party Election Broadcasts and equality of representation in interviews of spokespeople and other coverage. Both the BBC and Ofcom currently define the Green Party as a minor party.

If you are here you probably agree that this does not serve democracy. The system implies that the ideas of the Conservatives, Labour, LibDems, and UKIP together cover the full spectrum of serious opinion. But we know how big a hole that would leave, and our manifesto will be so distinctive as to reframe whole areas of the electoral debate.

Ofcom’s decision is still only tentative, however. Until February 5th they want to consult with you about it and only then will they give the broadcasters their instructions. The more responses they get the more likely they are to change their minds, so please take the opportunity. Here is their long justification for their decision so far, and here is where you can take them up on it.

Here are some points I made in answer to Question 2:

  • Opinion polls regularly put the Green Party at parity with the Liberal Democrats, and over the last year regularly place third among younger voters.
  • At a time when the paid membership of parties is declining, that of the Green Party is increasing rapidly and now exceeds that of both UKIP and the Liberal Democrats.
  • Largely because of his entertaining manner, over the last few years Nigel Farage has enjoyed access to the media out of proportion to UKIP’s political representation. This disparity must be addressed now that we are in the election season.
  • Public opinion has been tested on the matter of the TV debates, and 79% want us to be included.

Please remember the rules of campaigning letters. Be polite and positive. You aren’t doing this to express emotions or blow off steam. You are making a serious point to serious people, and hopefully making a bit of history along the way.

And if you are new to the party and you’ve done this, you can now proudly call yourself a “Green Party activist.”  

- MW

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