Natalie Bennett admits LBC Radio interview was 'absolutely excruciating'

She insists she still has the backing of the party’s record 55,000 members

Adam Withnall@adamwithnall
Tuesday 24 February 2015 13:50
Britain's Green Party leader Natalie Bennett speaks during the party's general election campaign launch in central London on 24 February, 2015
Britain's Green Party leader Natalie Bennett speaks during the party's general election campaign launch in central London on 24 February, 2015

The Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has admitted that she found a car crash interview on LBC Radio “absolutely excruciating” and put it down to suffering a “mind blank”.

Ms Bennett was left floundering for around three minutes on the subject of how her party would pay for a pledge to provide 500,000 more social rent homes in the UK.

Asked about the interview at another election launch event today, Ms Bennett said: “It was absolutely excruciating in the studio. All I can say is occasionally one just has a mind blank, that happens.

“I’ve been presenting the Green Party up and down the country, I’ve been delighted to do that and with the response I have had, and I’m delighted to have the backing of more than 55,000 members.”

She also addressed the interview on Sky’s Murnaghan programme, where she was asked if the incident showed she was unfit to lead the party.

She said: “I’ve spent the last two and a half years talking about our policies and the answer is to face up to one’s mistakes and move on.”

And on the BBC's Daily Politics programme, Ms Bennett said: “I had a very bad interview on housing this morning. I'm happy to confess that and I apologise to the Green Party members for whom I didn't do a good job - or any kind of job - presenting our policies.

“I'm human, and had a mental brain fade on this. But the fact is we're polling higher than we have for a generation and the Green surge is happening.”

Ms Bennett’s appearance on LBC came after what listeners described as a “wobbly” start to the morning on the BBC’s Today programme, and represents a difficult start to the party’s official launch of its general election campaign.

She seemed stumped by host Nick Ferrari’s response to the housing pledge of: “Good lord, where would you get the money for that?”

Despite repeatedly 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”.

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

— Daniel Finkelstein (@Dannythefink) February 24, 2015

Oh. My. God.

— Toby Young (@toadmeister) February 24, 2015

Extraordinarily bad interview by @natalieben on the Greens' manifesto Better just to say "I don't have the figures"

— Mark Wallace (@wallaceme) February 24, 2015

After a wobbly performance on #r4today, a complete meltdown in that @LBC interview with Nick Ferrari by @natalieben

— Jamie Angus (@grvlx001) February 24, 2015

Natalie Bennett’s LBC interview must be one of the most awkward interviews I have ever heard. So painful.

— Jane Bradley (@jane__bradley) February 24, 2015

Oh God, a horrible car crash interview by Natalie Bennet of the Green Party - awkward beyond words

— Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner) February 24, 2015

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.

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.”

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