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Greens 'must be invited' to debates

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett is hoping for a "political earthquake" at the general election and believes that the public are moving away from "business-as-usual politics".

She said it was vital for her party to be included in any TV debates to provide balance as voters are moving away from the "old boys' club" of Westminster.

Ms Bennett was speaking at the launch of a poster campaign aimed at the leaders of the main parties, entitled "What are you afraid of, boys?", to challenge broadcasters to include the Greens in any televised debates between party leaders.

The campaign is riding on the coat tails of a surge in popularity for the Greens.

Today the party's membership reached 44,175 in England and Wales, higher than the 41,943 claimed by Ukip last week and almost level with the 44,526 issued by the Liberal Democrats in November.

Ms Bennett said: "I have seen a whole slew of surveys last week that showed that the public want the Green Party represented in these debates, and of course we had a petition with 275,000 people saying, 'invite the Greens'.

"The arguments don't stack up - the broadcasters have to invite the Greens."

"It is very clear that we should be there if this is going to be a balanced debate."

Ms Bennett said it was time to move on from the traditional "old boys" club of Westminster, and that debates should be inclusive and help promote that.

Last week she wrote to Labour leader Ed Miliband, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Ukip Leader Nigel Farage, urging them to back calls for them to be involved in the debates.

She revealed Mr Farage had written back to her, "basically saying 'no'."

"This is the Green surge," Ms Bennett said. "We don't know where it is going, but it is certain that politics in Britain is not going to be the same again, and that is a very good thing.

"Let's get past the debating about the debates and let's actually debate the issues that we so desperately need, given the state of Britain today."

Ms Bennett said the "Green surge" pointed to the fact that politics is changing "very fast", and that the main political parties were afraid of the political ground shifting.

She said: "There is a real potential at this election that we could see politics break wide open.

"The Scots have already shown us the way. If we can start to imagine what an election with say an 85% turnout looks like, with the under-25s voting at the same proportion as the over-60s, and people voting for what they really believe in, then we could literally break politics wide open.

"Who knows where we are going to end up. It is very clear that people recognise that we need real change. Business as usual politics just isn't doing it any more and now we need to move on."

"If we have an election in May where perhaps 85% of people turn out to vote, versus the usual 60 or 65%, where young people turn out in the same kind of number as the over-60s do, where people vote for what they really believe in, which more and more people tell me they are going to do, then we could have a total political earthquake in Britain."


From Belfast Telegraph