In a move that shocked practically nobody, the BBC have announced that the Green Party of England and Wales is not deserving of a spot in their upcoming TV debates, ahead of next year’s general election.
The BBC have stated that when deciding which parties should be invited, they want to take their cues from the beginning of the latest political cycle: The 2010 general elections. Given the political climate of that time, they conclude, the Greens should not be given a place in the debate because they only elected 1 MP to match the 57 MPs of the Lib Dems:
“[The BBC are] taking as [their] starting point the result of the 2010 general election, where the Lib Dems took more than 50 seats and 23% share of the vote, demonstrating a level of electoral support overall substantially ahead of the Green Party.”
So why include UKIP, who had a grand total of 0 MPs in 2010? If 2010 is your starting point, the Greens have a better claim to a spot on the debates than UKIP. For one thing, it makes no sense to take 2010 as the starting point for any decisions about the debates. Politics moves fast, and taking data and opinions from 2010 is taking the opinions of people four years ago and assuming they’re still true today. Qualitative data that is four years old has absolutely no bearing on the opinions of the British people today. Well, the BBC has an answer for that too:
“UKIP has demonstrated a substantial increase in electoral support since 2014 across a range of elections along with a consistent and robust trend across a full range of opinion polls; the Green party has not demonstrated any comparable increase in support in either elections or opinion polls”
How sycophantic. But hang on a second, I thought the BBC were using 2010 as their stating point? Now they’re saying 2014 is the deciding factor. Well, which is it? Are you using 2010, when UKIP had no MPs, or 2014, when it had the same number of MPs as the Greens? Either way, inviting UKIP but not the Greens doesn’t make a scrap of sense.
So where should they derive their methodology? With today, 2014, most obviously. In which case, the Greens have the same number of MPs as UKIP, are polling higher than the Lib Dems in Lord Ashcroft and YouGov surveys, and have more MEPs than the Lib Dems. Their membership has even increased by 28.4%, to a record high, in the space of two months. By the BBC’s logic, why include the Lib Dems at all, if current data is such an important part of the decision making process?
Sure, you can say that Nick Clegg is deputy Prime Minister and his party still has over 50 MPs, and I for one am not seriously suggesting that the third largest party (not for long) be excluded from televised debates. But if you follow the logic of the BBC to its natural conclusion, and factor in polling as a primary concern, the Lib Dems have a far weaker argument to be on TV than the Greens.
So take 2010. Or take 2014. Or take polling data. Or take all of them at once. No matter what method you use, if UKIP are invited, so too should the Greens be.
To add insult to injury, read what the BBC have to say about the origins of support for the Greens:
“The performance in elections of the Greens in relation to the Liberal Democrats has been mainly the result of the decrease in support for the latter as opposed to a significant increase in support for the [greater]”
Frankly, the comment about where the Greens get their support from is not only inconsequential, but indicative of bias. Does the source of your support now determine whether you’re allowed to take part in a BBC debate? If so, perhaps we should remember that UKIP is comprised overwhelmingly of ex-Tory ministers, ex-Tory donors and ex-Tory voters. Having UKIP in the debates is like giving the most hardcore wing of the Conservative Party its own separate voice. In essence, we will have two Tory voices at the debates.
Then factor in the increasingly right-wing leanings of the Labour Party, which has all but lost its way. It now promises to continue the Tory welfare cuts for two years and its Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Israel-supporting, HS2-supporting Rachel Reeves, promises to be “even tougher” on the unemployed, in a manner that will exceed the already brutal crackdowns by the current government. At this rate, David Cameron’s Orwellian “earn or learn” approach to the unemployed would just as easily fit in Ed Miliband’s campaign. Or consider immigration, a policy area in which Labour and the Conservatives all but agree, aside from minor posturing and faux outrage in order to pretend they’re the alternative.
Methodology aside, where is the variety in these debates? When the make-up of the main political parties is four pro-austerity parties and one anti-austerity party, by excluding the anti-austerity one, you directly silence any debate over the nature of anti-austerity. Without the Greens, austerity is under absolutely no scrutiny.
What does this tell us about the BBC’s leanings? Pro-UKIP? Pro-Tory? Perhaps and perhaps. Above all though, they are pro-establishment. Think about their coverage of the financial crisis, where bankers, city stockbrokers and corporate heads of industry were invited to give their platitudes live on air, while many of us lost our savings and our homes, a tragedy that formed only the footnote of BBC coverage about the meltdown. Or think about coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where the BBC only reports about Hamas aggression and not Israeli aggression, and has publicly admitted that the death of Palestinian civilians doesn’t count as a newsworthy item. Or how about the complete silence in coverage when faced with anti-austerity protests in London?
Even consider, if you will dear reader, that the BBC even uses anti-terrorism legislation in order to hunt down those it suspects to be not paying their license fee. Time and time again, the inner workings of the BBC machine, and the mainstream media in general, smacks of authoritarianism. They never side with the victim.
The BBC is happy to take your money, but unhappy when you make small suggestions about what they do with it. I am boycotting BBC services until they reconsider their deliberate exclusion of the Green Party.