The Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has given her second car crash interview in as many hours on LBC Radio, with listeners describing the performance as “a complete meltdown”, “extraordinarily bad” and “awkward beyond words”.
It represents a difficult start to the party’s official general election launch, which comes amid record polling figures and a huge recent surge in support.
After telling host Nick Ferrari that the Greens would build 500,000 new social rent homes, Ms Bennett appeared to be stumped by his response: “Good lord, where would you get the money for that? Despite saying the policy was “fully costed”, she struggled to explain how much money the homes would cost or where the money would come from beyond an unspecified amount from “mortgage relief from private landlords”.
The 9 worst car crash interviews in recent politics
The 9 worst car crash interviews in recent politics
1/6 Chloe Smith on Newsnight
George Osborne was enjoying a good day as he scrapped a planned 3p rise in fuel duty in June, 2012. But then someone had the bright idea of putting Chloe Smith, a junior Treasury minister and then something of a rising star for the Tories, on Newsnight. But she was unable to convincingly answer a single question posed to her by Jeremy Paxman, even the ultimate killer blow: “Do you ever think you’re incompetent?”
2/6 Boris Johnson on Andrew Marr
Eddie Mair, standing in for Mr Marr during his stroke recovery, might have been seen as something of a soft touch in March 2013 before he destroyed the London Mayor on the BBC’s flagship Sunday current affairs show. Mair presented a series of anecdotes about the harsher side to the fluffy-seeming Mr Johnson’s rise to power and concluded: “You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?” Boris didn’t quite seem to know how to respond.
3/6 Ed Miliband on Good Morning Britain
Labour’s leader faced some slightly inevitable accusations of being “out of touch with reality” from ITV’s Susannah Reid after she surprised him with a “how much does X cost question”. This time it was during an interview on how much he knew about his much-vaunted “cost of living crisis” – and Mr Miliband underestimated the average household grocery bill per week by about a third. He admitted he was wrong – but later tried to wriggle out of the situation by claiming he was only referring to “basic groceries” not his “overall shopping bill”.
4/6 Rachel Reeves on Daily Politics
The shadow Work and Pensions Secretary got very mixed up on whether Labour were promising “a freeze or a cap” – when energy prices actually stopped rising and fell. Refusing to accept that her party had enacted a u-turn on policy, she said: “It wasn’t us who changed – it’s the world that changed.” She later couldn’t give any examples of retail prices being successfully fixed by governments – stumping for “the minimum wage – the price of labour”.
5/6 David Cameron on Gay Times
Grilled on his MEPs’ voting records on gay rights in the European Parliament, a pre-prime ministerial Mr Cameron suggested they could vote any way they liked. But he also said the right not to suffer discrimination based on sexuality was a fundamental human right – meaning it should not be subject to an open vote. The former PR man got so flustered he had to ask for the cameras to be turned off because he was getting “distracted”.
6/6 Nigel Farage on LBC
Nigel Farage’s image as a plain-speaking, not-like-that-lot-in-Westminster politician suffered one of a number of dents in May 2014, when a tense 22-minute confrontation with LBC’s James O’Brien had to be cut short by his spin doctor. Patrick O’Flynn – who is now an MEP for Ukip – had to step in when Mr Farage was repeatedly questioned on his views on race and why he would be uncomfortable if a group of Romanian nationals moved in next door to him.
After one particularly long pause she says: “As you can probably hear I have got a huge cold,” which may go some of the way to explaining her performance – dubbed by one Twitter user “the worst party leader interview ever given”.
Is this the worst party leader interview ever given? Must come close http://t.co/JZw5f0bz9s— Daniel Finkelstein (@Dannythefink) February 24, 2015
Oh. My. God. http://t.co/sL2vWcNACQ— Toby Young (@toadmeister) February 24, 2015
Natalie Bennett’s LBC interview must be one of the most awkward interviews I have ever heard. So painful. http://t.co/fqQHXn9q4J”— Jane Bradley (@jane__bradley) February 24, 2015
Oh God, a horrible car crash interview by Natalie Bennet of the Green Party - awkward beyond words http://t.co/0Tcoz1WCsg— Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner) February 24, 2015
It came after a difficult interview on Radio 4’s Today programme, in which Ms Bennett appeared to suggest that the West had to let Russia’s Vladimir Putin “walk away with something” from Ukraine if the crisis was to be resolved.
Even Greens supporters on Twitter called for a “calmer” performance from their leader, while others said she had an “absolute [night]mare”.
The party officially launched their election campaign today on a message of “hope” for the future on six key themes, including the NHS, public transport and of course climate change.
For the first time the Greens will be fielding candidates across around 90 per cent of parliamentary seats, and have seen a recent surge in membership to 54,000 matching record poll figures.
Quite appalling interview on Radio 4 with Natalie Bennett about Green Party policies. An inability to answer basic questions doesn't inspire— Bevis Musson (@bevismusson) February 24, 2015
Natalie Bennett having an absolute mare on Radio 4 this morning. Can't provide an answer to basic questions re economy and military.— Ryan Hopkins (@RyanHopkins_) February 24, 2015
@RyanHopkins_ sadly I agree, it was abit of a sorry interview..— Maurice Nagington (@NagingtonUoM) February 24, 2015
The party’s message has chimed with many, and away from the live interviews Ms Bennett was trailed as saying: “The old way of doing things is falling apart as the politics of hope triumphs over the politics of fear.
“The Green Party wants to create a political system that puts the public first and we believe we have the means to achieve that ambition.”
To hear more of Ms Bennett's LBC interview on their website, click here.