Membership of the Green Party has more than doubled in the past three months, reaching more than 50,000 members, with the Party now polling higher than ever in the run up to the General Election. Is this sudden surge in party engagement a direct result of its inclusion in the proposed general election leadership debates?
The big debate about the debate
In October 2014 the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News announced joint plans for three debates in the run up to the 2015 general election. This proposal included one debate with the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties, one including the Liberal Democrats and one including the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
The proposed inclusion of Nigel Farage prompted several other parties represented in the House of Commons to complain and, in late October, the Green Party were informed by the BBC that their requests to be included in TV debates was rejected.
A petition signed by more than 260,000 people demanding the Green Party's inclusion was handed to the BBC, followed by an announcement from the Prime Minister that he would not participate in a debate that omitted the Green Party.
The Prime Minister further expressed concerns over the timings of the debates and how this could impact the profile of the election, calling for the debates to take place at the start and referring to the significant impact the 2010 debates had on the ensuing campaign.
The smaller the Party, the bigger the win
The national debate over the debate seems to have had a significant impact on the election campaign for the smaller parties. As our Nexis analysis shows, the debate has had more of an impact on the media profile of the smaller UK parties than any event in the past year.
The media profile of both Natalie Bennett and the Green Party remained fairly consistent in 2014, but the national deliberation over the election debates has boosted the profile for both quite significantly, just in time for the beginning of the campaign.
The huge surge in party membership also illustrates a change in the way people interact and engage with politics. This change is driven by the dramatic increase, in the way the public consume and interact with information and news. The popularity of social media and the multitude of platforms and devices that allow people to engage with politics mean that national debates develop at lightning speeds.
3 ways to apply this information now