On the day of her general election campaign launch Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, gave what was in her own words an “excruciating”, “car crash” interview on LBC radio.
Bennett was on air to discuss the Green’s 2015 manifesto, a key strand of which being “Ensuring everyone has a secure, affordable place to live”. Bennett claimed the Greens would achieve this by building 500,000 affordable social houses, however when questioned on how she would fund these, she suffered a “mind blank”.
Bennett stumbled through questions from LBC’s Nick Ferrari, potentially exposing either her lack of knowledge on central policy areas of the Green manifesto, or perhaps the policies lack of substance themselves. Upon making the housing proposal Ferrari responded “Good lord, where would you get the money for that?” leaving Bennett lost for words, he continued with “so you don’t know” to which she seemed to say no while stuttering. Bennett suggested that her answers were being affected by an illness.
She would eventually go on to claim that the program would cost a total of £2.7billion, despite the true cost actually being closer to £27billion, and that each house would cost £60,000 to which Ferrari responded “That’s not much more than a large conservatory”. He pointed out that this figure didn’t even cover the cost of the land on which the houses were to be built, to which after a long pause, Bennett could only muster “Well, what we’re talking about is, what we want to see is the possibility of, um, of homes being built”.
Earlier on Radio 4 Bennett had attempted defense of another key policy the ‘citizens income’, £72 to be paid to all adults weekly “move away from a system where so many people are living in fear of not being able to put food on the table”. However when pressed on how much this would cost and be paid for, she could only say that there would be a ‘consultative costing’ in March.
The response to what was a farcical morning for Bennett has been one of ridicule, but also one of frustration as the day began with so much hope for the Green Party. Having experienced a surge in membership to 54,000, recording similar levels of support to the Lib Dems and fielding more candidates (in 90% of constituencies) than ever before, the progressive Green manifesto was positively anticipated only to have been let down by its leaders performance.
The interviews also have particular significance to our student body as the Greens have been winning the Redbrick pre-election voting polls. This may be down to the party’s progressive ideals such as taking action on climate change and eensuring every young person who wants to can access quality education.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jonathan Ashworth (Labour) said: “A vote for the Green Party would increase the chances of the Tories remaining in Downing Street… when the Greens are put under any serious scrutiny their policies fall apart.”
The Green Party leader later apologised to party members on Twitter, and followed this up with a guest blog on The Guardian, stating “On Tuesday morning I gave a terrible interview on LBC – let’s not pretend it was anything else. If you cringed listening to the show, than I’m sure you can imagine what I felt like.”
You can listen to Natalie Bennett’s LBC interview with Nick Ferrari online.