Sign the petition to get Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie into the election debates.
It seems odd that the Green Party has been shut out of the Scottish Parliament election debates.
In the Parliament, there are representatives from 5 political parties: the SNP, Labour, the Tories, the Lib Dems, and the Greens. All these parties have been represented to a greater or lesser extent ever since the Parliament re-convened in 1999. Yet only one has been excluded from the debates.
This breadth of representation is, partly, a result of the Additional Member System of proportional representation used for Holyrood elections. In 1999, on first past the post results, the Tories and Greens would have had no seats at all. The SNP would only have had 7. But there has always been something else too – a sense that there are at least some in Scottish politics willing to debate those with ideas with which they disagree, rather than shut them out; a sense of history which recognises that today’s radical proposals may be mainstream tomorrow; a sense that keeping the smallest Parliamentry group out of the conversation is not very Scottish.
When the rainbow parliament first met in 1999, much was spoken about a ‘new’ kind of politics. Westminster has pews facing each other, spaced 2 sword’s lengths apart so opponents don’t kill each other if their thrusting gets a little less metaphorical. Holyrood’s stage is a horseshoe. The committee system encourages some kind of co-operation. And while politicians are still politicians, and people still get hot under the collar, there is a slight feel that the Parliament is a space for discussion as much as it is for squabbling – a space for ideas to be aired rather than shut out.
And so it is crucial that the Green Party are allowed into the TV election debates for the Scottish Parliament elections this year. Because, as Alex Salmond said in 2007, the party represents a significant strand of opinion in Scotland. Because these views will not be aired by others. Because it is for voters, not TV executives, to decide who will or won’t be a major political force in this election. Because we should be proud that Scottish politics is about about where you want to take the country, not where your party is coming from.
And ultimately, if TV companies don’t care about any of these things, surely they are interested in one thing: Good telly. For TV executives as for the nation, what is the point of a debate if there is little disagreement? And ultimately, the four parties that are currently included in the TV debates all agree on the biggest question of this election: The SNP, Labour, Tories and Lib Dems are all willing to pass massive cuts to Scotland’s block grant onto the people of Scotland, rather than finding creative ways to raise taxes on the richest. Only the Greens support the use of those tax powers Holyrood does have to save Scotland’s public services. Will the people of Scotland really tune in to watch three middle aged men and a middle aged woman largely agreeing with each other? Surely having at least one opposing voice will liven things up a little?
Greens must be allowed into the election debates – to preserve Scotland’s diverse politics, to give the people of Scotland the right to choose who is and isn’t significant, and because, if nothing else, Scotland deserves some good telly of an evening.