So the General Election campaign has started with a bang. Or in the case of Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett: a ‘Mind Blank’. As readers of this blog for a long time know, I love a good General Election: for the drama – and the inevitable laughs. I am so pleased that John Prescott is joining in the fun again, as he is bound to entertain us!
But let’s get back to the unfortunate Ms Bennett who went into meltdown during a live interview on LBC radio. Listen here.
Yes: the interview is toe curlingly bad, and coughing when you can’t answer a question isn’t really an option! Ms Bennett didn’t appear to have information at hand to answer questions, and it made her appear unprofessional, ill prepared, and dare I say it, unsuitable for politics. At least a seasoned politician would have fibbed or deflected the question.
However, the whole event was made even WORSE, when Green party chairman Baroness Jones preventing journalists asking Bennett questions after the press conference. She squealed “No, no, no, no” whilst wildly waving her hands. It gave no one the confidence that the Baroness was in control of the situation, and confirmed that some media training was needed pronto. It also highlighted how important it is to modify the pitch of your voice if you are a woman.
What was so interesting about this ‘car crash’ situation was that we are so used to highly choreographed, perfect media appearances delivered by the other parties, that a series of gaffes is a major talking point. Bennett clearly didn’t have the information in front of her and wasn’t prepared – or hadn’t been prepared for the interview. At a subsequent interview, she was on the ball with all the relevant figures.
The general public, political enemies and the media will no longer forgive people ‘Winging’ it: the bar as been set high with polished performances from the main political parties, and they know from the previous election, when the public TV debates were on, that unless you were totally focused and prepared, your performance would be damaged.
I don’t believe this will damage Bennett and the Green party long term. There is plenty of time for more gaffes between now and the election and this will be forgotten. Although Bennett et al have learnt the hard way that they must be better prepared, it is rather refreshing to see someone presenting themselves as a human being – warts and all, rather than perfection. So here’s to some more spectacular Mind Blanks!