Saturday, 28 February 2015

Natalie Bennett

This last week Natalie Bennett - the leader of the Green Party - had a meltdown in an interview on LBC.

Having heard the interview, it was bad - she really couldn't answer the questions. She explained that she had a cold and I know that when your head is bunged up, it is difficult to think straight, it is hard to be coherent. And yet, this is not really an excuse. Politicians need to be on the top game all the time, illness or not. If she wasn't up to it, she should have cancelled.

I am embarrassed by the leader of my party making a cock-up like that. But does this mean that she is not able to play a leading role in politics, as some are saying? In truth, all of the party leaders have times when they are under par, and make a mess of interviews.That is part of politics - it is unfortunate that it happened at this time, but that is life.

So firstly, we demand such a lot from our politicians, particularly the party leaders. I don't have a problem with expecting them to behave in a moral fashion, to be exemplary in terms of their conduct if they are expecting to represent us, but in terms of their performance in interviews etc. We expect them to have all of the answers to all of the questions, meaning that we so often get pat answers to questions, because they cannot know the details of everything.

The answer to the question - on how building plans would be funded - is one that she should have known a basic answer to. If you want full details about the funding of the party plans, talk to the finance spokesperson. If you want to know what the policies are, and what the implications are, talk to the leader. She claims she had a "brain fade" - I know what that is like! - but I question whether she should have been expected to know all of the answers. She didn't because she is human, but we seem to expect something other than humanity in our leaders. this probably explains Milliband and Cameron.

Secondly, does the fact that the party leader had a moment mean that the policies of the party are all wrong? Does the failings of one person mean that people shouldn't vote for the party? I suppose it depends on what you are voting for

If you are voting for policies, ideas, principles that you would like to see enacted, then it doesn't matter at all. The party policies are just the same as ever. If you believed in them - and in the party's commitment to making them happen - then this should still be the case.

If you are voting for party leaders, then maybe you should vote for the ever-slick David Cameron. As a interviewee, he rarely stumbles - lies, dissembles, avoids questions, yes, but rarely stumbles. If that is what you want in a leader, he is your man.

Of course we tend to vote for people. I still believe that the people standing for the Green party are deeply committed people who want to make a difference: not just to the environment, but to your environment, our situation, and the direction we as a country take.

So yes, Bennetts stumble is embarrassing. She is embarrassed by it, quite rightly. But does it undermine the whole party? Unlike the main parties, the Greens are not a single person or small coterie of people. the Greens are represented by all our members, by a range of people, meaning that the mistakes one one - while serious - do not make the party irrelevant.