The Green Party beat the Lib Dems to becoming the fourth largest party in the European Elections and made significant gains in the UK council elections. The 2014 European Elections saw the Green Party gaining 7.7% of the vote, increasing their number of seats to 3 in 2014. However the spotlight especially from the BBC has been firmly placed on other political parties such as UKIP, resulting in the Green Party passing through this year’s elections unnoticed. Surely this cannot be deemed proportionate and unbiased. There is no room for ‘media blackouts’ in the twenty-first century.
Much of the media coverage leading up to, and post the European and Council elections have been on UKIP, and the other three main political parties. The European Election results have shown that the populations of Europe seem disillusioned and dissatisfied with the general status quo.
This has resulted in parties such as UKIP benefiting from this by winning 26% of the vote, resulting in 24 seats, up from the 2009 European Election where they won 16.9%, and 13 seats. This cannot be ignored as being the best result that UKIP has ever gained… it is. So as expected there would of course be media coverage of the rippling effect that UKIP would have and subsequently has had on the political landscape.
On the other hand most people know who the Green Party are. Many know what their political message is, and what their ideology is. It is the Green Party, who has had an abundance of success arguably more success than UKIP.
The European Election has shown that the Green Party beat the Liberal Democrats to becoming the fourth largest party, gaining more votes and more seats than the Liberal Democrats in Europe, however the Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett was not interviewed until 2:30am on BBC One’s Vote 2014; members of the other four parties were interviewed multiple times prior to this. As the Lib Dems are considered to be one of the three main political parties in the UK, to be beaten by the Green Party must mean that the Green Party has some form of elevated status amongst the British public, the Today programme (Radio 4) news summary mentioned the Lib Dems in fifth place, but there was no mention of the Greens, let alone their being in fourth. Further evidence, such as the Greens making significant gains in the Council elections increasing the number of councilors to 162 on 56 different councils, gaining 3 MEPs in Europe, and having 1 MP in the House of Commons where UKIP has none makes you wonder why there has been significantly less coverage by an organization (BBC) that is meant to produce balanced coverage amongst all the political parties.
Alan Johnson, chairman of the Green party in Bolton said that “I’m totally disgusted we were classed with the ‘others’ by the BBC, given we pulled in 1.2 million votes.”
Considering UKIP have only local councillors and a vast number of MEPs with no MPs in the House of Commons the case for them being a main political party seems almost outlandish when the Green Party is not. But Ofcom’s decisions to give UKIP extra coverage has meant that parties such as the Greens have not been able to make as much of a public impact as they may have liked.
In section 2 of the Review of Ofcom list of major political parties for elections taking place on 22 May 2014, it states that ‘UKIP should be added to the list of major parties in England and Wales’.
This is due to the fact that UKIP’s past election performance in the European Elections has been strong and that it had significant support in opinion polls.
Therefore any broadcasters that deliver Party Election Broadcasts such as the BBC are obliged by Ofcom to treat UKIP as a major political party in the European Elections resulting in their extensive coverage.
Subsequently then, the BBC had every right to give UKIP more coverage in the European Elections… therein which lies the basis for outrage amongst Green supporters and their cries for the BBC’s bias against the Green Party. Simply because the BBC could give UKIP more coverage should not have resulted in UKIP having more coverage at the expense of the Green Party.
This media blackout as it has been dubbed has lead to some people making a stand. Young Green Portia Cocks has launched a petition hosted by 38 Degrees to give the Green Party the fair coverage that it deserves and to inform people of the media blackout of the Green Party despite all of the success that they have had in the past. The BBC itself has had over 1,500 individual complaints from people about their lack of coverage of the Green Party. Surely the BBC should be looking at the amount of coverage it gave to UKIP and other parties compared to the lack of coverage to the Green Party in the May elections. As the BBC is supposed to be politically neutral, it should be reassessing the amount of coverage that it gives to all political parties in times of elections.