80% of British Public Want Greens Included in TV Debate

Caroline Lucas
Caroline Lucas is currently the UK Green Party's only MP. Luke MacGregor/Reuters

A new poll has shown that almost 80% of the British public want to see the Green Party participate in the leaders debate which will take place in the run up to the UK's general election next year.

The ICM poll - commissioned by the party - posed the question: "Do you think that the leader of the Green Party should or should not also be invited to join in the ITV Leaders debate?" to 1,001 people. ITV, who will host the debate, were invited to help frame the question but declined.

The party released a statement saying: "It is clear from votes and polls that the public are fed up with the three business-as-usual parties and are looking around for alternatives. The public want a serious debate in which they hear the full range of views."

This result comes as the most recent YouGov poll revealed that the Greens were just a per cent behind the Lib Dems, with the former on 7% and the latter receiving 8% in the latest publication of figures on voting intentions.

Laurence Janta-Lipinski, an associate director in YouGov's political team, said that while it's impossible to predict the number of seats the Greens might achieve in the election: "They are very good at targeting seats and working out the best places to focus their resources on. I'm reluctant to call it a 'surge' but they've gone from 1% in 2010 to 6 /7% in our polls, and where their popularity has surged the most is amongst the young."

Janta-Lipinski went on to highlight the increasing popularity of the smaller parties across the board: "I think a rise of all insurgent parties is a symptom of the times. There's a distrust and distaste with the three main Westminster parties, and certainly undertones that it's the Westminster elite vs us."

He continued: "Ukip and the Greens are the reverse of each other - one has the white, working class voters whilst the other attracts the better educated, young, metroropiltan worker - but both their general viewpoints are anti-establishment. They're motivated by different things, but that's what's shining through for both groups."

Green Party membership has doubled this year with over 27,600 members by early December. 50% of this growth took place in October and November. This rather staggering figure can be attributed somewhat to the Scottish referendum but possibly also to the publicity generated from their exemption from the live debates. They now have 38,000 members nationwide, putting them just 6,000 behind the Liberal Democrats who have 44,000.

The Janta-Lipinski pointed out that: "The Greens being barred from the leaders debate has helped get them publicity, which in turn means more credibility and so they will get more supporters and do better in the polls. It's given them a story and means people have become more aware of the party as a whole. Not being part of it right now is probably best for them, but of course in April, or whenever the debate takes place, that will change."

A Green party representative seemed to agree with this argument: "I think it is an interesting thought that being left out has done us some good, I would certainly say it has raised people's awareness of failings for democracy in the current media representation of politics."

"That is a good thing; more and more members of the public are realising that the traditional model of politics needs a drastic overhaul so thus any debate around political representation is vital."