Broadcasters of the televised leaders’ debates have rejected the Green party’s request for its leader, Natalie Bennett, only to appear in one debate.
The Greens’ plea for Bennett and their MP Caroline Lucas to both have a go at the debates has been declined by the BBC and ITV, which are the broadcasters who will each host the small parties on a seven-way panel.
The New Statesman learns that the party requested that Bennett only appear in one of the debates. It sounds like the party is trying to limit Bennett’s media appearances to avoid damage to its reputation, following her recent embarrassing performances.
A Green spokesperson confirms that the party made such a request, but insists it was made “a long time ago, way before last week”, referring to Bennett’s notoriously disastrous interview on LBC on the day of the Greens’ election campaign launch at the beginning of last week.
The spokesperson says: “There was a discussion within the party a few weeks ago where we decided that we’d like one debate with our MP, and one with Natalie. This was not in response to any of her interviews, it’s just that it would have been good to have both, and as a party we’ve always tried not to put too much of a focus on leadership. There was a long time in the past when we actually didn’t have a single leader.”
Although the party states this request was made a while ago, its attempt for Lucas and Bennett to share the debates in the first place suggests that it doesn’t have full confidence in its leader, who has had a number of poor media performances recently, to win over voters via the TV debates.
Also, the Greens’ statement is at odds with Bennett’s comments about a month ago during an interview on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, when she insisted that she alone would be doing the debates, following suggestions that Lucas wanted to take part: “They’re ‘leader debates’, and I’d be doing those.”