Leaving the Green Party out of the TV debates will alienate the young at a time when voter apathy is sky-highby Lucy Webster / January 15, 2015 / Leave a comment
Last week, David Cameron announced that he wouldn’t take part in any election debates which didn’t include the Green Party—and, for once, I agreed with him. It is painfully obvious that he is just posturing, most likely on the advice of his strategists who are hoping to avoid having a debate at all (his worst nightmare is having to face Nigel Farage’s “everyman” populism). And yet in serving his own self-interest, he had actually struck on a principle: debates should be open. If Ukip, which has just two MPs, is to be included, the Greens, with one, should be too—it is in the interests of balance and democracy. Without their presence, the debates will lack credibility.
If this matters anywhere, it is among the student population. Apathy is already sky-high amongst the young, yet support for the Greens remains strong. “The Green party is the only party at the moment that appears student-friendly, particularly due to its policies regarding free higher education and its concern for future generations regarding the environment, unemployment and the NHS,” says Benjamin Gallaher, a spokesperson for Warwick’s Green Party Society. He points to the party’s plan to abolish tuition fees—an area of huge importance to students. And of course, “students are generally more likely to have radical, left-leaning ideas” (the stereotype is indeed true), which simply are not represented by the other, mainstream parties.
The Greens score more than twice as well among first-time voters than they do across the general population, according to Opinium’s recent poll of young voters. Why watch a debate in which your views are unrepresented and ignored? Including the Greens would be beneficial for the simple reason that it may encourage young people to tune in, and by extension reduce the apathy which we are so known for. I believe that it is vital for young people to vote; it is our lives which will be most shaped by the next government. Although I am not a Green voter myself, I want to see the views of my generation represented in the forthcoming campaign—if only so my pained attempts to convince others to vote are a little less futile.