Just watched Caroline Lucas being interviewed by Andrew Neil on Straight Talk this morning.
She did a brilliant job, and is growing in stature and confidence with each engagement. Neil was reasonably fair, not interrupting unduly in comparison with other broadcasters, but he does make little harrumphing noises as soon as Caroline is beginning to deliver the beans, which distracts from listener comprehension. I would have imagined that broadcasting is about comprehension, but maybe I'm being naive here.
My comments are in italics.
Neil's qq are in bold.
The interview indicates the tough questions that all candidates will face, and deserves study.
He starts on "Is the Green Party (GP) pacifist?". No, it's not, but we want to abolish Trident and go for a smaller, defensive and peace-keeping force. I would add, and an ethical and legal foreign policy and international framework that does not tie the British Bulldog to the tail of Republican Pit Bull. I would also add that humanity managed to abolish human sacrifice on the altar of the gods, and this sets a precedent for a long-term objective abolishing the practice of sacrificing young men and women on the altar of "state security".
Neil brings out a trio of labels and tries to stick them on Caroline's lapel.
Are Greens anti-capitalist? Not in the window-smashing sense. Markets are OK, economic growth is not.
Are Greens eco-Marxists? No, we are for fairness and sustainability.
Are Greens of the Left? Yes, if that means redistribution and equality, but these labels are low definition gear.
The environment has been big in politics for 10-15 years, but the GP has made little progress?
We have made steady progress (130 councillors, 2 MEPs) but the electoral system is designed to keep small parties out. To put it mildly - FPTP is a heap of dingoes' kidneys well past their date.
What about the climate skeptics? Here Neil puts their case for the deniers, pumping up the importance of the CRU hack, the Himalayan glacier blooper, the Amazon reference omission, as if they were more than the trivial details that they are. Caroline responds with the scientific consensus, the big picture remains. He distorts her response to be a claim that the "science is settled". Science is never settled. Caroline didn't know about the Himalayan glaciers, and is uncertain about the reason for the recent slowing in global warming. Her advisors should read the FAQs. She does brings out the best-bet argument.
Next we get the "Is-green-a-religion" clishe' from Andrew. Yawn.
Can we meet CO2 reduction targets? Caroline: it depends on the political will.
How can we meet our energy needs with "windmills"? (Answer: we cannot. We can grind corn with windmills, but wind turbines are neccessary to meet our energy needs). Caroline mentions conservation of energy, CHP and Kirklees success, but, sadly, has not been briefed on the HVDC supergrid, (Technical .pdf here) which is the key that opens the door to self sufficiency on renewables.
Onward and upward: There's more to it than Green Issues? Yes, fairness, through progressive taxation. (How I wish that we had time to make the point that sustainablity and social equity are a seamless ecological garment). So we are a big tax and spend party? Yes, though we can redirect from wasteful projects like Trident and ID cards (which unfortunately, will only delete one year of borrowing).
We can borrow more. Or we could go for a complete overhaul of how money is made, challenge the monopoly of the corporations on money creation; but this is more than a ten minute interview can handle; so the best we can say is "People need to know where money comes from. At present, public understanding of this is at the stork/mulberry bush level".
Overall, Caroline did exceedingly well, coming across with clarity and sincerity, holding her nerve under pressure. This is early in the election, and we need to learn from this, because these are the main questions that we face. Key informational vulnerabilities lie in the energy gap, and the real time economics of UK plc.
The central adjustment to be made is to adopt a more assertive, less defensive stance. FPTP is crap. The benefit system is crap, locking people into unemployment. Westminster is crap - look at Byers and the influence buyers today -an Augean stables that needs radical reform. Our foreign policy is crap - the UK should be supporting international law, not circumventing it. Above all, conventional economics is crap, not just the irrational nonsense of economic growth, but also, and supremely, there is a need to transform economics to create a healthier, happier society.