Open up politics to small parties, Lucas demands

First 'Independent Live' debate of the election hears leader of Green Party call for democratisation of campaign

Britain's leadership debates should be opened up to involve the minor parties, even at the cost of giving more publicity to the far-right, Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party, said last night.

At a packed Independent Live event within the dramatic setting of Brighton's Royal Pavilion, Ms Lucas said that parties should be forced to "deal with the causes" of any rise in support for parties such as the BNP, "rather than closing down democracy". She said the boom in support for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats following his strong performance at last week's debate demonstrated that all parties should be given a fair airing.

During a lively debate which saw candidates take questions from voters in the Brighton Pavilion seat, representatives from the Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green parties were quizzed on Afghanistan, the economy, voting reform and Britain's nuclear weapons programme. They were also confronted about whether or not they knew what it was like to live on the minimum wage. However, the effects of the first British leaders' debate were still the main talking point of the evening.

"Nick did do really well, but he wasn't that different from the others," Ms Lucas said. "If 90 minutes can catapult someone 13 points in the polls, it ought to be shared a bit more equally." The Greens have targeted Brighton Pavilion as the seat most likely to give them their first ever Westminster MP, with Ms Lucas, who is already an MEP, contesting the constituency. Britain remains the only major European nation never to have returned a Green Party candidate to its main legislature.

Charlotte Vere, a businesswoman who is contesting the seat for the Tories, was the only candidate to oppose lowering the voting age to 16 when responding to a question from the audience. The Liberal Democrat candidate, Bernadette Millam, revealed that her priority if elected would be to fight for improved care for the elderly. She said that the leaders' debate had allowed her party to "introduce Nick Clegg to the country".

Ms Lucas said that the Trident nuclear weapons programme "should be scrapped" immediately. "Replacing Trident is all about double standards," she said. "We would have a better chance of other countries giving up weapons if we did not replace it." When asked if they had any experience on living on the minimum wage, Ms Millam said she was currently surviving on benefits and had worked as a cleaner in the past to put food on the table for her children. Ms Lucas said her party had pledged to fight for a "living wage" of £8 an hour.

Ms Veer was questioned on the voting record of Tory MEPs, who have been accused of opposing equal rights legislation. She was also asked to defend David Cameron's decision to take his party out of the main centre-right group in Europe and to ally with more right-wing parties instead. "We absolutely do not believe that Europe should be involved in social policy in individual countries," she said. "We have the most radical manifesto that the Conservatives have ever had. We want to embrace climate-change and social policies."

The Brighton seat is currently held by Labour, but its 5,500 majority is well within striking distance of its rivals. Recent polls suggest the seat is a genuine three-way marginal, with the Tories, Labour and the Greens all in with a chance of winning the seat. Past polling earlier in the year suggested that the Greens had a lead in the constituency, though the increase in support nationally for the Liberal Democrats, who had been a distant fourth, may have dented what was an eight-point lead at one stage for Ms Lucas' party.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a dynamic En...

SAP Data Migration Lead

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Experienced Lead SAP Data Manager Requir...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Graduate Recruitment Resourcers - Banking Technologies

£18000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Huxley Associates are looking...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform