UKIP one; Greens nil – Ofcom’s election broadcast reckoning

16 Mar 2015

Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, announced this week that the Green Party does not count as a “major party” and so will be denied the right to two TV election broadcasts.

However, UKIP will get a minimum of two election broadcasts in England, and have the same treatment as the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative Parties, as it is a “major party”.

Ofcom decided that UKIP had seen a “significant” increase in support, having won the European elections in England in 2014 with 29.9% of the vote, and an average poll rating of around 15% in 2015. The Greens, meanwhile, are averaging around 7% support in polls.

The regulator said that to measure increasing membership, such as the Green’s spiralling membership figures in recent months, was not “as robust” a method for deciding which parties deserve “major party” status.

In a statement, the Green Party said: “To consider the Green Party, the party with the third largest membership in England and Wales, not to be a ‘major’ party does a disservice to our democracy”, and added that the regulator had failed to acknowledge “that the future of British politics does not have to look like the politics of the past”.

Steve Crowther, UKIP’s Chairman, said he was “pleased” with the decision. “The fact that UKIP was the victor in the last two by-elections, in the European elections last year, whilst maintaining its regular polling in the high teens and is considerably ahead of the Liberal Democrats, and in many parts of the country is supported by a quarter of the electorate or more, means that this is simply a recognition of what everybody knows."

The regulator’s decision also affects Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, where the “major” parties with a right to two election broadcasts include the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Alliance Party the DUP, Sinn Fein, the SDLP, and the Ulster Unionist Party.

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