The Green Party has expressed shock at Ofcom’s consultation which suggests it will not qualify for status as a ‘major party’ – meaning it will be excluded from forthcoming TV leader debates.
Ofcom has suggested that the debate will include Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, with the addition of UKIP.
More than 275,000 people have signed an online petition in support of inclusion of the Green Party –more than 10 times the number of members of the party itself.
Jonathan Bartley, Green Party candidate for Streatham, said: “To draw an arbitrary line in the sand and not include the Greens is bad for democracy.
“It doesn’t really make sense but its really about issues that are much bigger than the Green party – it’s about the democratic system itself and the way it doesn’t allow new ideas into the establishment or any fresh perspective.”
Parties which are granted major status by Ofcom are automatically entitled to at least two party political broadcasts on key channels such as BBC 1, Channel 4 and ITV.
A spokesman from Ofcom said: “The [Green] party has not demonstrated significant past electoral support in General Elections.”
Clare Keogh, Green Party candidate, labelled the decision ‘deeply disappointing and absolutely unjustified’.
“With our current polling putting us ahead of the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party could have an enormous impact on the outcome of the general election and so to dismiss us as a minor party seems absurd,” she said.
Ofcom has defended the controversial inclusion of UKIP, commenting that although it has not gained major electoral support in the past, it is gaining strength in opinion polls and other areas.
A spokesperson said: “UKIP’s performance in a number of other significant forms of election has, however, been stronger.
“Notably, UKIP has won two seats in Parliament at recent by-elections.”
David Cameron is reported as saying that he is unwillingly to participate in forthcoming election debates if the Green Party are excluded.
The regulator will make a decision on February 5, and will announce the final list of major parties in early March.
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