Greens demand rethink over TV debate exclusion

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

OVER 150,000 people have signed a Change.org petition (1) in the last 36 hours alone calling for the broadcasters to include a Green representative in the TV Leaders’ Debates ahead of the 2015 General Election.

At some points yesterday the petition, which spread like wildfire on social media, was receiving 7,200 signatures an hour, 120 a minute on average, and more than two a second.

The Scottish Green Party have today joined with the Green Party of England and Wales in writing to the four broadcasters organising the debates, requesting that the decision to exclude the Greens be reconsidered and that a meeting be held between the parties and the broadcasters to discuss the issue(2). Legal advice has been sought if the broadcasters are not forthcoming in this regard.

Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens said:
“These proposed debates fail a public who are clearly eager to enter an era of multi-party politics across the UK. To wait until just four days after UKIP elects their first MP before inviting them in whilst ignoring the Greens who have had an MP for four years is scandalous.

With UKIP presenting a hyped-up version of the same Westminster politics it is only right that a party offering a genuine alternative and with demonstrable support is allowed for our voice to be heard. Whether it’s renationalising the railways or raising the minimum wage to a Living Wage, Green policies are popular across the UK.

This popularity can be demonstrated by recent polling putting us neck and neck with the Liberal Democrats at Westminster and comfortably ahead at Holyrood. Indeed in this May’s elections Greens beat the Liberal Democrats by over 150,000 votes across the UK.”

Ends

For more information please contact ross.greer@scottishgreens.org.uk/07500 792 995

For more information about Change.Org please contact Nadia@change.org

Notes:
1 http://www.change.org/p/bbc-itv-channel-4-sky-include-the-green-party-in-the-tv-leaders-debates-ahead-of-the-2015-general-election

2 http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/15/green-party-ultimatum-tv-debates-exclusion

Full text of SGP letter – http://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/news/letter-to-broadcasters-full-text/

Full text of GPEW letter – http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/10/15/leaders-debates-letter-from-the-green-party-to-the-broadcasters-(full-text)/

GreenComms

Letter To Broadcasters - Full Text

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

We are extremely disappointed at the joint proposal that broadcasters unveiled on Monday of this week. We believe that there is a strong case for a Green representative to be included in the line-up and would ask you to reconsider your proposals.

Since the announcement on Monday morning we have been overwhelmed by the thousands of messages of support we have received, going far beyond Green supporters. You will have noticed the petitions which have also been started and within days have attracted tends of thousands of signatures. Dozens of political commentators and even the Prime Minister have called for the Greens to be included, particularly if if the same opportunity is afforded to UKIP as is currently proposed.

Just four days after the election of a UKIP MP they have been brought in to the fold for the TV debates and yet, four years after the election of Caroline Lucas, the UK’s first Green MP an invitation has not been forthcoming. It is clear that any reasonable criteria for inclusion which would be met by UKIP would also be met by the Greens.

In England, Wales and Scotland the Greens received 150,000 more votes than the Liberal Democrats in the 2014 European Elections and won three times as many seats as them.[1] In General Election opinion polls the Greens are neck-and-neck with the junior Coalition partners.[2]

Despite our comparative lack of airtime our policies are consistently popular with the public. We have a 5% lead over second-placed Labour when people Vote for Policies[3]; 64% of the public back our plan to turn the minimum wage into a living wage[4] and 66% support building more social housing.[5]

There is clear public support for including the Green Party in the Leaders’ Debates – from people who would never vote Green.[6] Regardless of their politics most people have a strong sense of what is right and fair. Excluding the Green Party is both wrong and unjust.

We request an urgent meeting with you to make our case for inclusion. We have already sought legal advice should we be unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion though we are hopeful that it will not be necessary.

Yours sincerely,
Patrick Harvie MSP & Cllr Maggie Chapman
Co-convenors, Scottish Green Party

Media Enquiries: 07500 792 995

 

[1] BBC, Vote 2014: UK European election results: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/events/vote2014/eu-uk-results

[2] The Independent, 28 July 2014: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/poll-labour-set-to-win-the-election–but-people-still-dont-like-ed-miliband-9634140.html; The Ashcroft National Poll, 24 June 2014: http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/ANP-140623-Full-tables.pdf; UK polling report, 16 June 2014: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/8897

[3] Vote for Policies website: http://voteforpolicies.org.uk/

[4] YouGov, 23 October 2013: http://yougov.co.uk/news/2013/10/23/londoners-living-wage-legally-required/

[5] YouGov, 10 April 2014: http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/04/10/londoners-blame-rich-foreigners-housing-boom/

[6] Change.org: Include the Green Party in the TV Leaders’ Debates ahead of the 2015 General Election: http://www.change.org/p/bbc-itv-channel-4-sky-include-the-green-party-in-the-tv-leaders-debates-ahead-of-the-2015-general-election

GreenComms

DEVOLUTION COMMAND PAPER IS DAMP SQUIB SAY GREENS

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Scottish Greens say the publication by the UK Government of a “command paper” on devolution confirms that there is a gulf in public expectation that the three UK parties must close.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

“This so-called command paper is a damp squib. It simply repackages what the three UK parties put forward in the spring, since when public debate has moved on considerably and public expectations have been built up.

“The three parties must show willingness to catch up to meet the shared aspirations of Yes and No voters. In the closing stages of the referendum campaign promises were made about deep devolution and near-federalism, way beyond what the parties originally proposed. That gulf must be closed, and Scottish Greens will continue to argue for meaningful public involvement in agreeing a package of powers that will give Scotland real autonomy.”

 

Command Paper published today sets out the proposals of the 3 main UK political parties for further devolution

Scottish Green Party submission to the Smith Commission on Devolution

 

The three parties must show willingness to catch up to meet the shared aspirations of Yes and No voters.
Patrick Harvie MSP

SCOTTISH GREENS CLOSE CONFERENCE WITH MORE THAN 7000 MEMBERS

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Last night in Edinburgh Alison Johnstone MSP closed the Scottish Greens’ biggest ever conference with an announcement that the party’s membership has more than quadrupled in less than a month.

Alison

The party’s total membership stood at 1,700 before the referendum, and with hundreds of new members joining during the party’s conference, the total stood at over 7,000 as of last night.

Alison Johnstone said:

“What the last couple of years has shown is that, if we scratch just below the surface, if we give people powerful ideas, and if they can exercise their own democratic power, we find a Scotland full of passion and energy for the job of making a better society.

“My view is that our party, the Scottish Greens, had the clearest vision throughout the referendum campaign of what this better society should look like, and that’s because we had that vision all along. That’s what’s brought people to the Scottish Greens, as they told me all weekend: our message of environmental justice, our policies to challenge entrenched and growing poverty, and our vision of an economy that works for the many, not the few.

“For years I’ve heard party members say what we really need is more members, new talent, fresh energy, a more diverse membership. I’m delighted to say that is an excuse we can never use again.

“There has never been a Scottish Green Party conference like this, or even a Scottish Green Party like this. We’re four times the size we were three weeks ago, more determined than ever to make a difference, and the surge in membership is still going on.

“This weekend was a constant buzz of energy, full of people fired up to continue the debate about this country’s future, to elect more Greens and to help communities across the country build the kind of Scotland we dream about.”

 

This weekend was a constant buzz of energy, full of people fired up to continue the debate about this country's future, to elect more Greens and to help communities across the country build the kind of Scotland we dream about.
Alison Johnstone MSP

TV DEBATES SET TO FAIL SCOTLAND SAY GREENS

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Scottish Greens are criticising broadcasters’ proposals for high profile debates during the 2015 General Election campaign.

One UK-wide TV debate is expected to be a head-to-head with the Conservative and Labour leaders, a second will include the Libdems and a third will include them and Ukip. None will feature the Greens.

BBC Scotland intends to broadcast a peak-time Scottish debate featuring the SNP, Labour, Conservatives and Libdems but not the Greens.

STV says it will stage a debate featuring “relevant” party leaders but has not yet confirmed details.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

“These debates fail to reflect the truly unique situation Scotland now finds itself in, and we will be making representations to the broadcasters. People who voted Yes and No voted for change, with record numbers joining the Scottish Greens following the referendum.

“Greens across the UK are level pegging on polling with Libdems so should not be excluded from high profile TV debates featuring the Coalition’s austerity cheerleaders. Greens have also regularly been ahead of Libdems in polls for the Scottish Parliament, and our membership is now more than twice theirs.

“TV debates are only one element in any election campaign, and Scottish Greens will be harnessing the energy of community activists and social media to get our message across. No matter what further devolution takes place, Westminster is where decisions will continue to be taken on the economy and international affairs, and Green voices need to be heard.”

 

TV debates are only one element in any election campaign, and Scottish Greens will be harnessing the energy of community activists and social media to get our message across.
Patrick Harvie MSP

SCOTTISH GREENS BACK STRONGER ROLE FOR TRADE UNIONS

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

The Scottish Green Party’s conference today heard from Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, and from Jil Murphy of Business from Scotland, in a session around how the economy can be reformed to prioritise broader social interests, fairer wages, and labour rights.

Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser for UNISON, speaking ahead of an address to conference, said:

“The economy is increasingly being managed in the interests of shareholders and the richest in society, with public services under attack, zero hours contracts on the rise, wages continuing to stagnate for those in work, and benefits being squeezed for everyone else. Austerity is making it harder and harder to provide the kind of public services that are ever more essential in an economy of this sort.

“The key question for the trade union movement is this: how do we deliver high quality services which respond to the needs of local communities with decent pay and conditions for workers? It’s a question for all the political parties too, and it’s a great pleasure to be here at the Scottish Green Party’s conference to discuss exactly these issues with the party’s members, old and new.”

Green Councillor Mark Ruskell, who addressed the same session, said:

“Greens recognise the essential role unions play in society, defending public services, protecting the rights of those in work, helping them to organise around the collective interest, and supporting an economy that puts people first. We support union campaigns to protect and enhance working conditions, not least because those workplaces are often so essential to those most in need of public support. We also, of course, support the right of workers to ballot on and take industrial action when necessary.

“The need for a strong democratic labour movement hasn’t gone away: in fact, if anything it has never been more essential. That’s why I’m so pleased to have been able to take part in this session with Dave Watson, and to discuss how the Scottish Greens can work more closely with the trade unions on the wide range of areas where we share a position.”

 

Greens recognise the essential role unions play in society, defending public services, protecting the rights of those in work, helping them to organise around the collective interest, and supporting an economy that puts people first.
Cllr Mark Ruskell

GREENS TO REVIEW WESTMINSTER STRATEGY

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Scottish Green Party conference has this weekend backed a call to review the party’s 2015 UK General Election strategy in the light both of the referendum result and the party’s significant growth in membership.

In 2010 the party stood candidates in 19 out of the 59 seats in Scotland.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:

“The last time the Scottish Greens fought a Westminster election we had around 1,000 members across Scotland, and now that figure is closer to 7,000. This extraordinary increase in activist numbers gives us the ability to knock on many more doors, deliver many more leaflets, and to continue the much broader discussion about Green values with the public that took place during the referendum campaign.

“We also have to recognise that the promises of further devolution made by the Westminster parties during the referendum campaign will turn this election on its head. What will be proposed by the Smith Commission? What say will the public have? Will those promises be honoured? We don’t know at this stage. But we know those issues will be at the heart of May’s election, and we need to take account of this radically changed context.

“UK General Elections have historically been the most difficult for small parties, given the weaknesses of the electoral system, and also the way the debates are covered. However, given the referendum result, we cannot ignore the need to send Green MPs to Westminster. No matter what further devolution takes place, that is where decisions will continue to be taken on many important economic and international questions in particular, and Green voices need to be heard in those debates.

“We recognise that it will be an enormous challenge to secure a Green MP in Scotland, as indeed it was for our colleagues in England and Wales to secure the election of Caroline Lucas in 2010. But that must now be our ambition, which is why this review is so urgent.”

 

The text of the motion passed reads as follows:

Re-evaluating 2015 Election Strategy
In the light of the result of the referendum and the significant growth of the party, conference agrees that Elections & Campaigns Committee should re-evaluate the party’s 2015 electoral strategy including how many seats are contested, how significant the party’s expenditure should be, what new opportunities exist in the changed political context, and what issues and messages should be at the core of the campaign.

The central aims should be to secure the strongest possible Green result and advance our Target To Win plans for future elections at all levels, and win at least one MP.

 

We recognise that it will be an enormous challenge to secure a Green MP in Scotland, as indeed it was for our colleagues in England and Wales to secure the election of Caroline Lucas in 2010. But that must now be our ambition, which is why this review is so urgent.
Patrick Harvie MSP

JOHN FINNIE MSP JOINS THE SCOTTISH GREENS

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

At a meeting this morning of the Council of the Scottish Greens, an application to join the party from John Finnie MSP was approved. Mr Finnie was elected in 2011 as an SNP list MSP for the Highlands and Islands region, having previously represented the Inverness Ness-side ward on Highland Council since 2007. He left the SNP in October 2012 over their decision to support NATO membership and has represented the region as an independent MSP since then.

Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, said:

“The Green MSPs have found much to work on with John Finnie since 2012, when he left the SNP and joined the group of Greens and independent MSPs at Holyrood, and it gives me great pleasure to know he’ll be working with us from now on as a member of the Scottish Greens. Even before the SNP’s decision to support membership of a nuclear alliance it was clear that he shares a commitment to Green values, and I know he will be a credit to the Scottish Green Party at Holyrood. The Scottish Greens have seen an unprecedented surge in membership over the last month. To be able to tell Conference this morning that John is the latest of those new members is therefore an extraordinary privilege.

“John’s decision to join the Scottish Greens comes at an excellent time. As a country, as a Parliament, and as a party, we face significant challenges on austerity and inequality, on further devolution, and on building a just low-carbon economy. Working alongside him we will aim to make a real difference on all those issues, to hold both governments to account, and to campaign for an stronger Green group at Holyrood after May 2016.”

John Finnie MSP said:

“I would like to thank the Scottish Greens for my welcome to the party today, which has been warm, generous, and enthusiastic. I’ve been a Green all my life; I just didn’t know it. Working and campaigning alongside Greens, I’ve seen that my values are Green values: social and environmental justice, democracy and integrity, internationalism and peace. Receiving my membership card today feels like a homecoming.

“I have no ill will towards the SNP, a substantial minority of whom voted with me to oppose NATO membership. But the project of building a fairer and more sustainable Scotland isn’t the exclusive property of one party, or even any group of parties, and I would urge others who share my views to take the next step and join the Greens as I have done. I’ll continue to sit as an independent MSP for the rest of this parliament, voting for the manifesto commitments I stood on, and voting with my conscience and judgement in all other votes, as I have done since becoming an independent. I’ll be putting my name forward to be selected as a Green candidate for the Highlands and Islands for 2016, a decision which will be for the local branch to make.”

Working alongside John Finnie we will aim to make a real difference, to hold both governments to account, and to campaign for an stronger Green group at Holyrood after May 2016.
Patrick Harvie MSP

SCOTTISH GREENS SET OUT SMITH COMMISSION PROPOSALS

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Speaking at a press briefing today ahead of the party’s 2014 conference, the Co-Convenors of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie MSP and Cllr Maggie Chapman unveiled the party’s vision for radical devolution to Scotland, as set out in a submission to the Smith Commission.

Harvie and Chapman will sit on the Commission, which was set up by the UK parties to deliver on the pledges they made to the Scottish people during the independence referendum.

The Greens are committed to working cooperatively to help deliver the strongest and most coherent set of powers for the Scottish Parliament, but are also concerned to strengthen public involvement in the Commission process.

The Scottish Parliament this week agreed the Green proposal that a period of “meaningful public participation” must follow the Commission’s work given the severely limited time available during its consideration.

The party proposes that a formal written constitution will be required if the future of the Scottish Parliament is to be properly secured, and that the following should be devolved to Holyrood as a minimum:

* all franchise and electoral law for Scotland, which would allow 16-18 year-olds to vote in the 2016 election, allow Scotland to use a fairer electoral system, and ensure that those convicted of serious criminal acts, as in the recent Walker case, can be removed from office
* wide economic powers including borrowing as well as taxation
* the bulk of the welfare system
* energy powers relating to industrial emissions standards, community renewables, public energy companies and investment in energy efficiency currently delivered through power companies
* transport policy, such as the barriers to publicly owned railways, and road speed limits
* responsibility for employment law and employment rights, including industrial relations, plus health and safety
* human rights and equalities law, which would allow more radical equal pay legislation to be pursued, and protect Scotland from the threatened scrapping of the Human Rights Act

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said:

“The UK political parties committed to a very tight timescale, and cannot now ignore that commitment without betraying public trust. But that leaves the Smith Commission with almost no scope for meaningful public engagement.

“The danger is that the infectious energy of the referendum debate is followed by the familiar sight of a stitch-up between political parties. We will do our best to work constructively with the others on the Commission, but the first item on the agenda for me is to encourage Lord Smith to agree an urgent programme of open public engagement so that the people of Scotland have the chance to shape the country’s future.

“The Scottish people were promised what some called devo max and others called home rule. Tightly limited tax powers designed to force Holyrood to follow Westminster’s austerity agenda would be unacceptable.

“While most Scottish Greens campaigned for independence, we must all accept the result of the referendum and ensure that Scotland achieves the radical devolution settlement that was promised. These are the powers we believe are needed if the pledge is to be honoured, and if Scotland is to have the opportunity for radical self-governance within the UK.”

 

We will do our best to work constructively with the others on the Commission, but the first item on the agenda for me is to encourage Lord Smith to agree an urgent programme of open public engagement so that the people of Scotland have the chance to shape the country's future.
Patrick Harvie MSP

SCOTTISH GREENS LOOK AHEAD TO LARGEST CONFERENCE EVER

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

The Scottish Green Party will hold its annual conference in Edinburgh this weekend: the event is sold out, with more than 450 members booked to attend.

The party has been buoyed over the last three weeks by a massive increase in new members, taking total membership to just over 6,000, around half the membership of either the Labour Party or the Conservative Party in Scotland.

The Greens’ co-convenors will also take part in the Smith Commission, looking at further devolution to Scotland, and will lodge submissions to the Commission in advance of the party’s conference.

Councillor Maggie Chapman, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, said:

“The Scottish Greens ran a positive and forward-looking campaign in the run-up to the referendum. Although many of us were disappointed by the result, we were proud of the vision of Scotland based on hope and creativity that we presented.

“This has been followed by an extraordinary flood of new members, beyond anything we could have imagined. For the first time in our history we have Green members in every corner of Scotland, many of whom are experienced campaigners who worked hard on the doorsteps during the referendum.

“With them on board, we are now in an excellent position to contest the forthcoming UK general election as a springboard to elect many more Greens to Holyrood in 2016, and to local councils across the country the year after that.

“This conference will also be the best-attended in our history, with speakers including former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish and representatives from Oxfam, Business for Scotland, COSLA, UNISON, the Church of Scotland and others. We will also decide on policy positions for the Party, including opposition to the war in Iraq, raising the minimum wage to £10, and public ownership of our transport systems.
“It’s fair to say there’s never been more interest in the Scottish Greens’ agenda, and we are expecting a weekend of vigorous debates on policy and strategy, as well as looking forward to starting the process of getting to know our new members.”

Sally Foster Fulton, Convener of the Church and Society Council of The Church of Scotland, who will address conference on Saturday, said:

“The political energy unleashed by the referendum is unprecedented, and offers civic Scotland a renewed opportunity to work towards the Scotland imagined during this time of discernment. I look forward to sharing time at the Green party conference, exploring ways to bring a fairer future forward for those who find themselves trapped in an unequal economic system.

“A Scotland within the United Kingdom is the vision we have chosen for ourselves. As we walk into that future, we must do all we can to ensure the future includes our most vulnerable citizens.”

 

We are now in an excellent position to contest the forthcoming UK general election as a springboard to elect many more Greens to Holyrood in 2016, and to local councils across the country the year after that.
Cllr Maggie Chapman, Scottish Greens Co-convenor