Natalie Bennett: Green Party looking into legal action over leadership debates

The leader of the Green Party said the legal framework for the televised debates was not 'fit for purpose'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The leader of the Greens has said they are looking into legal action regarding the current row over whether the party will be allowed to take part in the General Election television debates.

In an unusual alliance, Ed MilibandNick Clegg and Nigel Farage united to urge David Cameron to agree to participate in the televised debates after Prime Minister David Cameron stipulated he would not participate unless the Green Party was included alongside Ukip in the encounters.

The leaders of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Ukip are demanding Cameron be "empty chaired" by broadcasters if he does not join give ground ahead of the 7 May 2015 election.

Speaking to The Independent's editor Amol Rajan on London Live, Natalie Bennett said, "We have to look at the fine legal detail but certainly we are talking to some lawyers and they are giving us very strong support that we really appreciate. Legal action is an option whether it would be directly against ITV or against the consortium, would be a matter of detail."

She said that the lack of a legal framework around the televised debates, which were first introduced at the last election in 2010, showed how the current system was "not fit for purpose".

"If you look at Germany, they have a legal framework for how debates are conducted, everyone knows what they are.," she said. "These debates...we've imported an American style presidential system into a parliamentary democracy which really doesn’t fit very well. Then we have no rules; we have the Ofcom draft really muddying the waters. It desperately needs to get into the 21st century."

Bennett called Miliband, Clegg and Farage "the three amigos" and said she had written to them to suggest they get together and write a new letter, calling on the consortium to ensure the Greens were allowed to participate.

"If you look at the facts, in terms of public support, there’s been a whole slew of polls in the past few days showing very clearly, last night YouGov for The Sun, 72 per cent of people saying we should be there. You look at the 275,00 people who signed the petition saying that we should be in the debates. It’s our support, it’s the general feeling out there among the public, that the Green Party should be there."

She said she would ideally like a "5-5-2" format, where the first two debates would include the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems, Ukip and the Greens, with the last involving just the first two. However, she said she could live with a "5-3-2" debate system, where the Greens and Ukip would only partake in the first debate.

The Green parties have overtaken Ukip in membership numbers with around 2,000 new sign-ups in the last 24 hours.

The party saw a rapid increase in their membership number with a current total of 43,829 people signed up across the UK. Ukip has confirmed 41,966 members as of present, which gives them a lead of 1,863.

The Greens, that are devolved for three separate regions of the nation, has 35,481 members in England and Wales, 8,026 in the Scottish branch and 322 in the Northern Ireland division.