Thursday, April 22, 2010

'Leaders debate' in Bristol

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I will be introducing Peter Tatchell, speaking at The Thunderbolt, Bath Rd, from 8pm tonight when today’s ‘leaders debate’ is broadcast from the Arnolfini, Bristol by Sky and so I’ll have to watch a recording. Peter is of course someone who has offered up and demonstrated great leadership over several decades now – maybe the media will seek his view on the debate?

My view on the tv debates is that they are undemocratic if restricted to just the three people who lead a political status quo that is more discredited now than it has ever been! There is very little difference between the three of them in practice, including the Lib Dems, and it certainly suits their political agenda to exclude others. People have a right to see and hear a broad range of political leaders, including the Greens, Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, UKIP, Respect…In the last local and European elections the interest in parties other than Labour the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats was higher than ever, so don’t the media have a duty to help voters become fully informed??

Caroline Lucas MEP, leader of the Green Party and odds on to win the Brighton Pavillion seat and become the first Green MP at Westminster said this about the first tv debate:

Is Peter Riddell right to say “The shift to the Lib Dems seems to have little to do with their policies and more to do with Mr Clegg’s personal appeal” (The Times 21 April)?

Certainly it seems the Lib Dems’ 10-point jump in the polls has been almost entirely attributable to Mr Clegg’s 90 minutes of prime-time television. He performed well. But could he have performed equally well had he not been confident in a set of policies he believes enjoy a good deal of public support?

The independent Vote for Policies, Not Personalities website ( has had over 150,000 people participate in its survey to ascertain which party’s policies they most support, without initially revealing which parties follow which policies. The Liberal Democrats are currently showing in second place, with just over 18%, ahead of Labour (17.6%) and the Conservatives (16.5%).

The Greens, however, are way ahead of them all, with well over 27% of respondents preferring Green Party policies.

I do regret the broadcasters’ decision to exclude the Green Party leader from the debates. But in the end, we must remember that it’s the policies that count. It’s policies translated into acts of parliament that affect people’s lives, not whether Gordon Brown looks tired or Nick Clegg feisty or David Cameron had, to quote The Times, “Disastrous pursed lips,” an “Unfortunate Elvis quaff” and “Awkward hand movements”.

I believe the Green Party’s flagship policy of a £44 billion government investment programme, to create a million new jobs in the UK, funded by tax reforms that would leave 87% of Britons better off, is a policy well worth voting for. And I think a high proportion of the electorate would vote for it, if the Green Party were given even a quarter of the airtime the big three parties get to explain their policies.

Green election leaflet for Bristol East

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Copy of my general election leaflet (click to enlarge):