Thursday, January 15, 2015

Response to Ofcom's consultation on the classification of political parties.

There is a widespread notion going about that Ofcom has decided that the Green Party is classified as a minor party, and that Ukip is a major party. This would have a negative impact on the Green Party's exposure for the General Election on May 7th.

In fact, although Ofcom is minded towards that judgment, the question is still out to consultation, up to February 5th. Their review of the present situation is here, and there is an online form to respond here. They prefer an online form, although they will receive letters and emails. 

Clearly, Green Party members, Green voters, sympathisers and indeed anyone with any sense of justice will want to reply. Here are my comments, which you can use to stimulate your responses on the online form.

Additional comments:

The Communications Act says that Ofcom's principal duty is to further the interests of citizens and of consumers, where appropriate by promoting competition.

Although this refers primarily between broadcasters, the principle extends to promoting fair competition between political parties. There is a case for saying that competition between Ukip and the Green Party has not been fair, neither in print and broadcast media, nor in broadcast media, with a pronounced bias in favour of Ukip. Ofcom has a duty to rebalance this situation.

Question 1: Please provide your views on:
a) the evidence of current support laid out in Annex 2, and
b) whether there is any other relevant evidence which you consider Ofcom should take into account for the purposes of the 2015 review of the list of major parties:

The evidence of current support for the Green Party laid out in 2.17 is flawed by omission of any reference to the Green Party's success in electing an MP Brighton Pavilion in 2010 for the first time in a General Election.

In contrast to this omission, Ofcom refers to Ukip's success in 2 by-elections, where sitting MPs who changed alleigance were re-elected. A sitting MP has a clear advantage in being re-elected.

Ofcom should take account of membership numbers of political parties. At a time when membership of mainstream parties is waning, both the Green Party and Ukip are growing, and at the time of writing, the membership numbers of the Green Party are overtaking, or about to overtake, the numbers of UKIP.

Membership is a significant indicator of support, given that there is a financial outlay involved in joining a party.

Ofcom must take into account that opinion poll support for the Green Party has on some occasions exceeded that of the LibDems.

Ofcom has noted that the Green Party is often hidden under "Other" in opinion polls. This is itself a cause of negative bias against registering the true level of support for the Greens.

Finally, the Green Party should be seen as the equal and opposite ideological counterbalance to Ukip. Both are surging at the expense of the traditional parties, and in most respects they are antithetically opposed, on urope, Immigration, the desirability for greater equality, and above all, environmental concern and climate change. Ukip denies climate science, while the Green Party's energy policies are founded on climate science. Ukip's theory that CO2 will not seriously affect the Earth's climate is easily refutable. For Ofcom substantially to exclude the Green Party from the electoral debate 2015 would be totally unconscionable.

Question 2: Do you agree with our assessment in relation to each of:
a) The existing major parties,
b) Traditional Unionist Voice in Northern Ireland,
c) The Green Party (including the Scottish Green Party), and
d) UKIP?
Please provide reasons for your views.:

I disagree with your assessment of the Green Party for the reasons given above.

Question 3: Do you agree with the proposed amendment to Rule 9 of the PPRB Rules Procedures outlined in paragraph 3.7 above? Please provide reasons for your views.:
I do not agree with the amendment, on the grounds that my confidence in Ofcom's judgments is no longer firm.

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