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Green Party Leader Says Other Parties Are Afraid Of Debating A Woman

Natalie Bennett called on Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, and Nigel Farage to put pressure on broadcasters to let her take part. "What are you afraid of, boys?"

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Emily Ashton/BuzzFeed

The Green party has accused the mainstream parties of being too scared to face a woman in the pre-election TV debates.

Leader Natalie Bennett has launched the party's new poster, which features her and Green MP Caroline Lucas with their arms folded above the caption: "What are you afraid of, boys?"

It comes after the broadcasters suggested that the Greens be excluded from any TV debates – prompting David Cameron to refuse to take part unless they are invited.

But the poster launch descended into farce when a man in a chicken suit was manhandled by a Green party press officer for interrupting Bennett's photo shoot.

Emily Ashton/BuzzFeed

Bennett said Westminster was an "old boys' club" and that the Green party wanted to shake it up.

She told BuzzFeed News: "I talk around the country to groups of women, young women in particular, and it's really important that they see themselves represented up there.

"But I think there's a broader point here: that politics needs to be much more inclusive, inclusive of women and inclusive of black and ethnic minority communities and inclusive of disabled people, and that's just really lacking at the moment.

"This is a way of making that point. And I'm also really proud that the Green party announced our spokespeople last week and we have a 50/50 gender split in our spokespeople."

Asked whether parliament was an "old boys' club", she told us: "It is, and one of the things that really worries me is when you walk around the corridors over there.

"It's not just the fact that only 23% of MPs are female – the corridors are I think an even worse proportion in terms of male dominance and that suggests we need to change a lot more over there."

Bennett revealed that the Green party now has more than 52,000 members across England, Wales, and Scotland.

Emily Ashton/BuzzFeed

That is over 7,000 more than the party had last Thursday and is higher than the memberships of both UKIP and the Liberal Democrats.

She said: "We're here to make a serious point about the need for issues like bringing the railways back into public hands, having a minimum wage that's a living wage, an NHS that's publicly owned and publicly run, and zero university tuition fees.

"Let's get past debating about the debates and let's actually debate the issues that we so desperately need given the state of Britain today.

"Politics is changing very fast. There's a real potential in this election that we can see politics break wide open. The Scots have really shown us the way.

"If we can start to imagine what an election with, say, an 85% turnout is like, with the under-25s voting in the same proportion as the over-60s do, people voting for what they really believe in, then we could really break politics wide open.

"Who knows where we're going to end up?"

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at emily.ashton@buzzfeed.com.

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