It is always really interesting to hear from politicians who are currently leading a party. That’s why I was excited when Natalie Bennett, the leader of The Green Party, was keen to answer some questions for me. Natalie Bennett has been the leader of the Greens since 2012, taking over from Caroline Lucas, and recently took part in two of the live TV debates for the General Election. Natalie also wished me good luck with my blog which was very flattering!
- How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?
“Crucial: we need a politics that looks to the needs of the future, not just the present, and that understands the need for real change. It’s not only young people who can do both of those things, but they are more likely on average to do that.
It is no accident that government policies have been focused on the needs of older people while the young have been made – with the poor and disadvantaged – to pay for the fraud and greed of the bankers, when older voters have been going to the polls in far higher numbers than the young. And that our last and current governments have, while talking about the need to tackle climate change, failed to take essential actions, which have seen us left behind while much of the rest of the world powers ahead.”
- What persuaded you to join The Green Party?
“I joined on the 1st of January 2006 – it was the result of a new year’s resolution to ‘do something’ about the state of the world. I’d never have predicted that it would lead me where it has! I chose to join the party because I believe that we need Greens elected in local councils, in assemblies and parliaments, because that’s where the decisions are made. Other forms of politics, lobbying, petitions, marches and demonstrations, are crucial, but without people who understand the need for real change at the centres of power, we’re not going to get the speed and scale of action we need.”
- What have you learned from your time as leader of The Green Party?
“Well I learnt before I became leader that there’s not such thing as “just deserts” in politics – results don’t necessary reflect the quality or quantity of effort. Since becoming leader, I’ve learnt that resilience is an essential quality!”
- What are your proudest achievements from your time in politics?
“Seeing Molly Scott Cato elected as MEP for the South West, in 2014, the “green surge” that has seen membership increase from under 20,000 years ago to around 67,000 now.”
- Do you think that the TV debates benefited your own party and the other smaller parties?
“Certainly. Voters got to know a lot more about what we stand for, our full range of policies, and the way in which we offer something very different from the business-as-usual politics of the traditional parties.”
- How can The Green Party be more successful in the future?
“We now have 67,000 members, five times the number we had a year ago – significant more than Ukip and the Lib Dems. The key is to ensure they can contribute in a wide range of ways, and work with grassroots community campaigners, unions and other groups to present a positive image of a Britain that works for the common good within environmental limits.”