call to media (and the Greens): why not a 'minor parties' debate?
Bell's Guardian cartoon on the party leaders' TV election debate
row that flared up in the New Year was typically pointed. It
depicted the four austerity party leaders in a line - Cameron,
Farage, Clegg and Miliband - with the Greens, in a dig at
Cameron's previous 'cut the green crap' comments, an unpleasant
presence for them all (see gu.com/p/44q9f/tw).
actually Steve Bell has it slightly wrong. The real
'unmentionable' in the media coverage of the election so far,
including the 'debate about the debates', isn't the Greens. While
even the Pub Landlord gets some coverage for his election
challenge, the party that will be fielding the sixth biggest
number of candidates across Britain in the general election, the
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), has not had a
single mainstream media reference once this year. We will have to
campaign for our right to be heard.
debate of a different type
in December the TUSC national steering committee sent a letter to
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett (see below) adding its support
to the demand that the Greens be included in the leaders' general
we also suggested a joint campaign for a televised debate of a
different type - involving all those parties that reach the
threshold for a party election broadcast (standing in one-sixth of
the seats up for election in England, Scotland or Wales) but that
could not reasonably be seen as contenders to form a majority
government. This would mean the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the
Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cmyru, and... TUSC.
Natalie Bennett has not replied to our letter. And The Guardian
refused to print a letter making a similar proposal from the
former Labour MP and now national TUSC chairperson, Dave Nellist
BBC's former editorial director says that all "those who are
willing to put themselves on the line" should be able to
participate in the debates. The Guardian writes editorials urging
a "fight for the right to have debates" (January 15th).
Yes, but obviously not with socialist trade unionists who will put
a real alternative to the austerity consensus.
Letter to Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader, 18th December 2014
am writing on behalf of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
(TUSC) national steering committee to add our support to your
campaign for fair media coverage in the 2015 elections of the
alternatives to the establishment austerity consensus.
may be aware that TUSC, co-founded in 2010 by the late Bob Crow,
is aiming to stand widely in 2015. We plan to surpass the 560
council candidates we stood in this year's local elections and to
reach the broadcasting authorities' political election broadcast
(PEB) qualifying threshold of around 100 candidates for the
this number of candidates - giving TUSC the sixth biggest presence
on the ballot paper - will, inevitably, entail electoral clashes
between our parties. Indeed TUSC, as a declared socialist
coalition with a commitment to refuse to implement the cuts in
local councils as in parliament (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/policy
), would not seek to underplay the political differences between
us. But we do share your indignation at how the media's political
coverage is slanted, exemplified in the promotion of UKIP in the
proposed leaders' debates, at the expense of other alternatives.
unequivocally support your participation on behalf of the Green
Party in the leaders' debates planned by the BBC, ITV, C4 and Sky.
But we would also like to propose that the Green Party and TUSC
make a joint approach to the broadcasting authorities for an
additional televised debate of a different type.
would be for parties that reach the PEB candidates threshold but
are not contenders to form a majority government - a 'Championship
debate', to use a football analogy, rather than a Premier League
contest, without Cameron and Miliband. Such a format would meet
the criteria that you rightly set out in your recent letter to ITV
that general election debates should not simply be "to hear
the prime minister and the leader of the opposition debate, but to
hear the views of a broader range of party leaders, representing
the range of parties standing large numbers of candidates across
would be very pleased to meet with you to discuss this proposal -
or any other suggestions you may have for how we could work
together to challenge the media's pro-establishment bias.
look forward to your reply.
Letter to The Guardian, 9th January 2015
am writing to add the support of the Trade Unionist and Socialist
Coalition (TUSC) to Natalie Bennett's campaign for fair media
coverage in the May elections ('Cameron's Green protest may black
out TV election debates', 9 January 2015).
co-founded by the late Bob Crow, is aiming to stand widely in 2015
with 100 candidates for the general election and around 1,000 in
local authority seats, giving us the sixth biggest presence on the
share Natalie's indignation at how the media's political coverage
is slanted, exemplified in the promotion of UKIP in the proposed
leaders' debates, at the expense of other alternatives.
unequivocally supporting Natalie's participation on behalf of the
Green Party in the leaders' debates, we would also like to propose
an additional televised debate, of a different type.
would be for parties that reached the threshold for a party
election broadcast, but are not contenders to form a majority
government. A 'Championship debate', to use a football analogy,
rather than a Premier League contest - in other words without
David Cameron or Ed Miliband.
an innovative format would meet the criteria Natalie set out in a
recent letter to ITV, that TV debates should not simply be "to
hear the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition debate,
but to hear the views of a broader range of party leaders,
representing the range of parties standing large numbers of
candidates across the country".
in a spirit of seeking wider debate in the run-up to the election,
especially from those holding anti-austerity views, the Guardian
might support such a suggestion, or even agree to host a similar