Green Party leader Natalie Bennett may have scooped top spot in shambolic media interview stakes

Tuesday 24 February 2015 should have been a great day for the Greens to set out their vision for a new form of politics that challenges the status quo, but instead the day descended into complete farce.

Somebody should have been kind enough to pull the plug on Bennett's interview, argues John Shewell
Somebody should have been kind enough to pull the plug on Bennett's interview, argues John Shewell
Party leader Natalie Bennett didn’t appear to have a grip on her party's election manifesto, no handle on the policy details, and no context within which these were set to articulate a narrative for a better political alternative. This was worse than student politics.

Her performance on LBC was so inept that even the most hardened media professional could be excused for begging that the interview end quickly to spare the hapless leader from further ridicule. 

By the evening everyone but Bennett was trotted out to salvage the Greens from complete self-destruction. 

So what went wrong? 

Only Team Bennett can answer that question. The real issue is: what impact this will this have on votes and, more importantly, the credibility of the Greens?

UKIP currently owns pole position when it comes to gaffes galore, but the Greens don’t need to join the circus. They’re meant to be smarter than that.

The public richly deserves plurality of views and an alternative, progressive style of politics to the version currently offered by the traditional parties.  

But how can the average person be expected to vote for a party that can’t articulate its policies in simple, practical terms? 

Andrew Caesar-Gordon, MD of Electric Airwaves, argues that preparation is key to any successful media encounter.  

"One wonders how much media preparation Natalie Bennett undertook before her interview with LBC. Any spokesperson can have a bad day – a ‘mind blank’ as she later called it – but the key is to know how to compensate for it. Bennett doesn’t appear to have had a modicum of decent media training. Otherwise she should know how to acknowledge a difficult question to which she doesn’t know the answer and to ‘bridge’ to her core narrative."

The former leader, Caroline Lucas, has carefully built the reputation of the Greens as a credible party since winning her seat in Brighton four years ago. 

Bennett may have shot it down in 24 hours.

Caesar-Gordon adds: "Maybe the Greens believe they have ‘authenticity’ and that people vote for them on principle rather than the detail of policy. Maybe. But there have been so many media miss-steps of late that they are becoming a laughing stock. The media narrative has been set. It can’t wait for the next gaffe. And the TV debates."

As James P. Farwell wrote in Persuasion and Power: The Strategic Art of Communication: "Trust has to be earned. Credibility has to be built – and continually strengthened – or it is never achieved; it is lost."

John Shewell is founder of Colab

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