Green Party overtake Ukip membership as it seeks legal action over TV debates

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Green Party overtake Ukip membership as it seeks legal action over TV debates

Watch the full interview here.

Party leader Natalie Bennett admitted she didn’t know the exact number in her party but said support had been surging.

She said: “The last figure I had, it was about 1,600 new members by 10 o’clock last night. 
“There was an hour yesterday when a new person was joining every 10 seconds.”

She said she thought the party had around 35,000 members. The real figure is thought to be more than 43,000. Ukip have slightly fewer than 42,000 members.

Ms Bennett explained the party had to scrap its five year policy following the surge in members. 

During The Headline Interview, she told Independent Editor Amol Rajan the Green party has attracted a range of members, including young people who have never voted before.

“People think ‘You’re the anti-Ukip party. We have to get involved now to counteract Ukip’”.

The former Guardian Weekly Editor said David Cameron refusing to appear on television debates in the run up to the General Election has helped draw attention to Green Party policies and had “highlighted how we’re offering a different kind of politics - real change.” 

But Ms Bennett added the Prime minister was using the party for “his own political interests”. She said: “He’s leader of the Tory party, that’s natural. But he’s only able to say that because it’s a reasonable thing to say.”

More than 275,000 people have put their signatures on a petition calling for the Green Party to be included in an television debates. 

The party is also taking guidance on whether legal action can be taken against the consortium of channels as well as talking to broadcasters individually. She said: "We have to look at the fine legal detail but certainly we are talking to some lawyers and they are giving us very strong support that we really appreciate. Legal action is an option whether it would be directly against ITV or against the consortium, would be a matter of detail."

Noting the lack of a legal framework around the televised debates, which were first introduced at the last election in 2010, she said the current system was demonstrably "not fit for purpose".


In an unusual alliance, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage united to urge David Cameron to agree to participate in the televised debates after Prime Minister David Cameron stipulated he would not participate unless the Green Party was included alongside Ukip in the encounters.

Ms Bennett called Miliband, Clegg and Farage "the three amigos" and said she had written to them to suggest they get together and write a new letter, calling on the consortium to ensure the Greens were allowed to participate.

 

The Sydney-born politician also talked about the party’s education policy. She said: “What we have is an over-tested, over prescriptive stance on exams… the education system shouldn’t be a sausage factory… We want to abolish SATS.

“We want to have education that works for life, that’s much broader. And that means things like sex and relationship education, nutrition, food, cooking, financial education, personal finance education - we need those things.” 

Ms Bennett also discusses the party's stance on corporation tax and how it plans to fund universities if its policy of scrapping tuition fees comes into fruition.

She said the only way to reduce national debt was if multi-national companies and individuals "pay their way" and proposed a 60% income tax on the wealthy, for earnings over £100,000.

Finally, Ms Bennett spoke on whether she would be willing to lead her party into a coalition government, stating “we wouldn’t under any circumstances prop up a Tory government.” 

 

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