Written by Andrew Wilson
For many a year, one could be forgiven for believing that the Green Party were an irrelevant, niche party filled tree hugging, flower sniffers. That may be a hyperbole, but the Greens certainly lacked relevance in the times of New Labour. But the times they are a-changin’. The Conservatives are in power and the media marches onwards, relentless, on their perpetual UKIP circle-jerk wankfest – there’s an image for you.
However, the rise of the right hasn’t been the sole cause for the rise of the Greens. Oh no. Labour are currently providing their flower sniffing – I’m joking – counterparts a favour. Labour, with their recent anti-immigration and pro-austerity messages have well and truly moved to the centre-right. The left-wing is currently the nerdy kid sitting on the front of the bus. The big, popular kids know they won’t stay popular for very long if they hang around with poor, nerdy left-wing. Everyone seems a bit concerned that our nerdy, isolated friend may burn the school down if they enter a position of power.
A combination of these factors and good work on behalf of the Greens have resulted in a rise in popularity and prevalence. It’s all rainbows, wee kittens and unicorns for the Greens, right? Well, no, not really. In a recent interview to LBC’s Nick Ferrari – yes, that’s really his surname – the Greens leader, Natalie Bennett, made a boo-boo – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31602252. Yeah, I know.
Bennett has apologised and put her mistake down to a “brain fade”. We’ve all had one those. I once forgot how to spell ‘quote’ in an English exam. I’ve never appreciated how many times you have to use the word quote in an English exam more. But Natalie Bennett isn’t a teenager doing her Higher English exam, is she? She’s the leader of a political party, which are now well and truly at the forefront of the political landscape. You may believe I’m being harsh, or overly critical, but one cannot expect to hold a position of power in government and forget the facts and figures behind a policy. One can only imagine the backlash if Cameron or Miliband had made a similar mistake. With the election and debates approaching the Green Party cannot afford another PR disaster.
Unfortunately for the Greens this only feeds the perception that their policies are divorced from mathematics and economics, a perception that it struggles to shake off. Although by no means is this a meltdown for the Greens – even if some knee-jerking has been present – but if they intend to continue building momentum they cannot make a similar mistake. The Greens are, for the first time, on the political and media forefront and another mistake will prove costly. They must convince voters that they are more than the age-old hippy stereotype suggests and they must convince voters that their policies can be backed up by sound financial and economic reasoning. But for the time being, welcome to the harsh world of politics, you tree-loving hippies.