Can we take the Greens seriously?

It’s been an “inauspicious start” to the Green Party’s election campaign, says Sebastian Payne on his Spectator blog. Leader Natalie Bennett started her day by advocating a policy of Russian appeasement on the Today programme and followed it up with a “disastrous” interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari.

Challenged on the party’s proposal to build 500,000 new social rent houses, she was left stuttering and lost for words.

It’s been described by some as the “most humiliating encounter ever”, says Zoe Williams in The Guardian. Bennett’s answers on housing policy were more ridiculed than her defence of basic citizen’s income on Andrew Neil’s Sunday Politics. But she hasn’t been “discredited”.

All she did was “fail to recall how much is spent on giving mortgage tax breaks to buy-to-let landlords”. People have been pretty sympathetic, says Radhika Sanghani in The Daily Telegraph.

No one offered Ed Balls a “cuddle” when he forgot the name of Labour’s main business backer on Newsnight recently. It’s partly because Bennett is an underdog, but also because she is “one of the few women in politics”. Once we have a better balance – currently only 22% of MPs are women – we won’t “cringe so much” when women make mistakes. They will be on an “equal footing with the men, cocking it up all over the show”.

Had this been a major party leader, the papers would be “full of speculation about an impending leadership contest”, says The Independent. She apologised swiftly and admitted the interview was “excruciating”. But her “faltering performance” does not augur well. Building half a million houses for rent would be “vast, complex and expensive”.

Renationalising the rail network and scrapping tuition fees would be no picnic either. The Greens “add to our democracy by advocating radical policies”, but unless they address the consequences, they “forfeit their right to be taken seriously”.

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