2 Days to Help Scottish Green Party get Equal Coverage
Broadcasters have to give ‘due weight’ to coverage of political parties if Ofcom class them as a major party. Ofcom have recently published a report which will determine the amount of exposure parties get in the build up to the Scottish Parliamentary election. The Scottish Green party have not been classed as a major party meaning that they will find it difficult to compete with those who have.
Ofcom gave a summary of their reasoning.
The Scottish Green Party has demonstrated higher levels of support in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections and in opinion polls gauging support for the regional vote in the Scottish Parliamentary elections. However, the party has not demonstrated significant levels of past electoral support (notably at the 2015 General Election and previous Scottish Parliamentary elections). Having regard to this evidence, our proposal is not to add the Scottish Green Party to the list of larger parties for Scotland.
There is currently a review process ongoing which will end on Thursday at 5pm. Anyone can fill in this form in order to ask Ofcom to change their mind.
The main reason that the decision is flawed is that performance in the UK general election has been given the greatest weight. However, in the UK general election, due to the First Past The Post system, a vote for the Green party is a wasted vote hence the poor showing. There is little correlation between general election performance and performance in Holyrood votes.
On current polling the Green party are set to do well in the regional vote for the Scottish elections. In fact they are polling higher than the Lib Dems and the Lib Dems have been classed as a major party. The Scottish Green party got a greater share of the vote in the European Parliamentary elections than the Lib Dems. The voting system used in those elections is the same as the regional voting system for the Scottish Parliament. Also, the Scottish Green party have been outperforming the Lib Dems in post general election bi-elections.
These factors are a sign that the Green party have increased in popularity since the Independence referendum and that they will do well under a proportional voting system. The Green party have also been present at Holyrood since the parliament was created. In fact, they are the only such party to be classed as a minor party. What is worse about this decision is that the Green party have been classed in the same bracket as UKIP. However,UKIP have never had any representation in the Scottish Parliament and are way behind the Greens in almost every measure Ofcom used to classify the parties (UKIP did do well in the last European elections).
Many reading this may not be Scottish Green party supporters and might wonder why they should respond to Ofcom. However, even Nicola Sturgeon thinks the Ofcom decision is wrong and has publicly stated so. I believe Sturgeon wants to see a progressive Scottish political system that is more representative and accessible than Westminster. I think most Scottish voters, especially those who were in favour of Independence, should want the same thing, as this more democratic alternative way of doing things was part of the appeal of Independence.
If you intend to fill in the form and are looking for inspiration, you can read a very thorough completed form here. This is a quote from that form with the main points as to why the Greens should be included.
The SGP have always been represented in the Scottish Parliament, and will be again this year, making them one of only 5 parties for whom this is the case – the other 4 being allocated “larger party” status.
In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, the SGP won 4.4% (2 seats), only slightly behind the Liberal Democrats 5.2% (5 seats). UKIP did not achieve representation in parliament, with only 0.9% of the vote. As noted with regards to UK general elections, FPTP results skew towards larger parties, and so the constituency (which Ofcom’s paper refers to as “Directly Elected”) vote shares should not carry as much, if any, weight in this regard. (It should in fact be noted that with the SNP predicted to achieve another almost clean-sweep of constituencies this year, the regional vote is in fact where this election will largely be fought)
In the 2012 Local Elections, the SGP won 2.3% of the vote and 14 councillors, behind the Liberal Democrats on 6.6% and 71 councillors. UKIP won only 0.3% of the vote and elected no councillors.
In the 2014 European elections, the SGP won 8.1% of the vote ahead of the Liberal Democrats 7.1%. UKIP won 10.5%, which secured them an MEP – this is the only representative they have ever elected in Scotland.
In the post-general election by elections, the SGP won 5.9%, ahead of the Lib Dems on 4.4% (securing one councillor out of the 29 elected) and UKIP on 0.8%.
The polling average since the general election last year of all polls (15 in total) puts the SGP on 7.4%, the Liberal Democrats on 5.6% and UKIP on 2.2%. This would give the SGP more seats than the Lib Dems, and UKIP none. Another useful average would be to create an average of the last poll from each agency, the results are 7.8%, 5.8% and 2.6%. In terms of seats this would give similar results.
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