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Watch: Natalie Bennett demonstrates how Green policies don’t add up

25 January 2015

5:37 PM

25 January 2015

5:37 PM

Do the Green Party’s policies stack up? Although its membership and prominence have rocketed in recent weeks, little focus has been put on what the party campaigns for. Green leader Natalie Bennett was subjected to a dissection of her party’s principles on the Sunday Politics today (watch above) and demonstrated why most of its proposals are pipe dreams.

Bennett said her party wants to ensure ‘nobody is living in fear’ but exactly how they would pay for that remains unanswered. One of its policies would be a ‘Citizens’ Income’, ensuring everyone has a minimum weekly income of £72. This would cost up to £280 billion and Bennett said it would be funded in part by abolishing Jobseeker’s Allowance (cost: £3 billion) and scrapping the personal tax free allowance. Yet neither of these would come anywhere near paying for the Citizens’ Income.

Another Green policy is to introduce a wealth tax, which Bennett said would produce £32 billion and £45 billion — funding a quarter to half of the NHS. After Andrew Neil pointed to wealth taxes in other European countries, which have failed to bring in anywhere near that amount, Bennett excused this as different counties with different economies. On the Green plan to raise the top rate of tax, Bennett didn’t know to what level but denied the rich would flee the country.


Flying her anti-Ukip flag, Bennett wants to ‘stop the race to the bottom on immigration rhetoric’ and acknowledged her party wants to relax immigration controls in the medium/long term. Bennett also argued that the army needs shrinking, saying the British arms industry is ‘heavily export-focused’ at present and deflected the questioning by saying ‘a lot of people at the moment think our relationship with Saudi Arabia is a bigger issue’.

Most bizarrely, Bennett agreed that her party would make it legal for people to be a member or sympathiser of a terrorist organisation like al-Qaeda or ISIS – a policy going back to the days of the ANC. Although it would still be illegal to incite or support violence, Bennett thinks we should ‘not punish people for what they think or what they believe’.

The only straight answer Bennett was able to give was on the TV leaders’ debates. Although the Greens ‘are not a one woman or one man party’, Bennett said that she will represent the party in the two proposed debates. Despite earlier comments to the contrary, their only MP Caroline Lucas won’t get a look in.

The interview had a sense of deja vu compared to Nigel Farage’s turn on the Andrew Marr Show. Once upon a time, Farage, like Bennett, came off badly from a policy grilling and deflected detailed questions by saying ‘we’ll fully cost that in our manifesto’. But Farage went away, did his homework and is now able to better deal with such an onslaught. Bennett and the Greens now have to go away and do the same, if they want to be taken more seriously.

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Show comments
  • Charles Martel

    Bennett is as mad as a box of frogs!

  • disqus_XVbpeZ156A

    Considering her vitriolic attacks on Farage & UKIP supporters. this Aussie reject should be preparing her suit of armour for the coming debates.She has been made to look totally inadequate as a leader of anything.

  • Jerakeen

    What bullshit. You don’t get a house with a garden that size in Brighton on half the average wage, The bearded moron is a liar.

  • 4deuce

    As an American, I take solace in knowing that our mother nation is undergoinging the same Utopian madness as we are suffering here on our side of the Atlantic. This interview, if done on one of our US major TV networks here in the States, would have been a mini cannonization of this whacko Natale Bennett for her progressive views – none of which makes any sense when actually inspected for its logic or workability. To me it sounds like what the Greens are proposing for governing are the contents of some website, not a flesh-and-blood person or persons.

  • Landscape

    Cloud cuckoo land. I was interested in voting Green, then I looked at their policies. The more I see the less inclined I am to give them my vote. I suspect plenty of their new support will also fade away when people start looking at their policies

  • ScepticKev

    After this I imagine Natalie Bennett will be asking not to take part in the debates !!

    Why oh why is Andrew Neil not doing Newsnight !!

  • Nexialist

    I must say I wholeheartedly agree with my fellow/fella scribblers here that Natalie Bennett appeared to be defending the most ludicrous and laughable suicide note in modern British political history, i.e. the Green electoral agenda 2015. What I could not understand is how she did not dissolve into a puddle of green ectoplasm in front of Torquemada O’ Neil, spouting so much eco nonsense and ordure. Needless to say, after such an uproarious and embarrassing display of lunacy, can we still take her ‘mecenas’ Cameron seriously as a politician, after gerrymandering a slot for the Greens in the television debates? Nexialist

  • zoid

    crazier than bat scat.

  • ButcombeMan

    The point we are all missing is that once again, it took Brillo to unmask the nonsense.

    It is surprising the BBC keeps him on, he is so good at his job.

  • frank davidson

    I was embarrassed for our Australan cousin; why can’t there cricketers be so. I hope that she has gone away realising that her policies are non starters. Unfortunately, although understandably Andrew Neil chose to leave power generation alone. I really would like to see how she defends wind power.

  • sunnydayrider

    The woman’s, certifiable!


    What a wallying ! – is I think the most apt description !

  • CortexUK

    Oh bless. I love those shows in which kids get to act like grown-ups for the day. So sweet.

  • Anton Duem

    Whys she wearing a coat and scarf, did she insist on the heating been turned off?

  • Dave156

    I think its your sums which don’t add up. Even if the citizens’ income went to every person of working age in the country, the cost would only be about 160 billion not 280. And remember that it is taxed, so it would be les than this, and that which went to the high paid would be taxed at the marginal rate, so maybe 50% of it would come straight back. So maybe it would cost 80 billion. The abolition of the personal allowance, savings on JSA/UC, abolition of capital gains tax allowances, and the merging of National Insurance with the tax system (which effectively abolishes the UEL), and changes to inheritance tax would come pretty close to covering this.

  • CharleyFarleyFive

    I’d like to see them hit IS with a leaflet campaign.

  • Owen_Morgan

    Is this Aussie Ms Bennett trying to return Britain to the days of her namesakes, depicted by Jane Austen? I’m pretty sure we had no nuclear deterrent in Austen’s day (or an air force, either), although there were lots of windmills. Austen makes no reference to the war that lasted for a huge part of her lifetime and la Bennett turns a blind eye to the threats we face now. In fact, if Natalie Bennett had been running the show, someone draped in the sash of the Committee for Public Safety could have set up a guillotine in Covent Garden and remained untouched by the law, until the first head rolled into the basket, at the very least.

    The modern Bennett has things a bit back-to-front with regard to trade and immigration policy. In Austen’s time, we were a little preoccupied with maximising our imports and exports, while we tended to filter immigrants fairly carefully. Aussie Bennett thinks we have that exactly the wrong way round… or the policy document says we do, since it’s on the website (as she keeps reminding us), at least until it miraculously disappears.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    …Most bizarrely, Bennett agreed that her party would make it legal for
    people to be a member or sympathiser of a terrorist organisation like
    al-Qaeda or ISIS – a policy going back to the days of the ANC. Although
    it would still be illegal to incite or support violence, Bennett thinks
    we should ‘not punish people for what they think or what they believe’….

    I wonder why that seems quite a reasonable position to me? Does the Spectator believe in punishing ‘thought crime’?

    • Owen_Morgan

      Since when was membership of a terrorist organisation a “thought crime”?

      • Dodgy Geezer

        Since forever.

        Free speech and thought means that I should be able to think and say what I like.

        The Greens are quite right to call for penalties for actually murdering people, but not for arguing that murder should be legal.

        • Owen_Morgan

          No, membership of a terrorist organisation goes way beyond “thought crime”. If you join a terrorist gang, you are becoming part of a criminal conspiracy, one in which murder, often mass murder, is the objective.

          That is not an innocent thought, or even a malevolent “thought”. That is a deliberate, premeditated, provable action. It is a crime and should be prosecuted as such and punished as such.

          According to your logic, no conspiracy to commit crime would ever be treated as criminal.

          • Dodgy Geezer

            Which is presumably, why the Green Party agreed that actually planning a murder would still be criminal.

            Everything you say matches my position exactly, yet the words you use seem to indicate that you think you are disagreeing. I wonder why this is?

            • Owen_Morgan

              A terrorist organisation is, by definition, a conspiracy to commit murder. A member of a terrorist organisation is a terrorist and a conspirator.

              Both of those are crimes and should remain so.

              Neither is merely a “thought crime”.

    • Sean L

      Yeah but joining a group is a deed not merely a thought. Plenty of people support the idea of a caliphate but don’t join Isis. Ken Livingstone, amongst others, supported the IRA but he didn’t join them. Though of course they were legalised, at least their political wing, once they renounced violence and participated in constitutional government. To give Isis legal recognition in this country would be an act of self-sabotage by the state. There’s been far too much freedom for the likes of Hamza already. We’d be better off enforcing the law of sedition. After all, indigenous people are routinely locked up merely for usage, language that doesn’t actually threaten anyone, but is deemed ‘offensive’. That’s where the question of freedom should be directed. And equality, since they can be as offensive as they like about us with impunity, so long as they don’t actually join a group dedicated to our destruction by armed force. Whereas we get locked up for saying, “This is England, this is.”

    • The Masked Marvel

      Depends on the group. If it’s a group that has declared itself an enemy of the State, surely that’s a belief too far.

  • ManOfKent

    I wonder if the Green Manifesto will be called:

    The Road To Serfdom. Taking Britain Back To The Dark Ages The End Of Aspiration

    Will the last person out switch off the light (there will be plenty of room for all those immigrants as everyone else will flee in terror at these parasites!)…….

    The Greens policies are a complete nonsense. Bennett really didn’t like having her contradictory policies rammed down her throat. They are not fit to run an allotment let alone represent the people at any level. CAR CRASH interview!

    The reality is everyone but the bottom 1% will be a lot worse off under the Greens
    They are nothing but a bunch of tinpot quasi North Korean despots

    PS Now we know who the Libdem Mental Health improvements are intended for Anyone who votes Green should be certified!

    • Dodgy Geezer

      …The reality is everyone but the bottom 1% will be a lot worse off under the Greens…

      This is an appallingly immature appreciation of the situation, which bears about as much relation to reality as the Green manifesto itself.

      1 – This is a general manifesto, not intended to fight an election. It is primarily aimed at making Greens feel good. If the Greens were to form a majority party after the next election, this manifesto would NOT be implemented in its entirety, and no reasonable commentator thinks that it would. So we are talking about posturing rather than hard politics.

      2 – If this manifesto (together with the supporting Green ideas) were to be implemented, almost the first people to suffer would be the ‘bottom 1%’. Not to put too fine a point on it, they would die in short order, as the complex technology and economics on which our civilisation depends was dismantled. I would expect the ill, homeless and poorest to die first as the provision of food and water dried up, then the towns would fall to rioting looting gangs, and finally we would have a military coup as the Army stepped in to restore order.

      In all of this, the rich landowners and establishment would probably suffer least, and immigrants and the poor would figure heavily amongst the casualties…

      • Owen_Morgan

        Actually, it’s not a “manifesto”, as Natalya Bennett repeated about a thousand times during her near-death experience. It’s a “policy document”. You may argue, as she did, that the manifesto is the one that will be presented to the electorate, but it’s generally a party’s policy document that contains the party’s policies. Trusting the contents of the (as yet) non-existent manifesto, rather than those of the policy document, doesn’t make a huge amount of sense.

        If the greens were to be part of a Miliband coalition after the election, the price of their agreement to prop up labour would be a subset of their policies. Since their policies are all completely bonkers, it doesn’t greatly matter which ones they would pick.

        • Dodgy Geezer

          … Since their policies are all completely bonkers, it doesn’t greatly matter which ones they would pick….

          There are actually several that I would support. Decriminalising drugs and allowing free speech are two examples. Though I note that even these policies are unlikely to be fully implemented – the Greens seem to have a downer on alcohol, and, I guess, would not actually allow any criticism of their energy policy.

          You could run some green policies without extensive destruction of our society, I guess… But the full aim of the Greens IS the destruction of the technological consumer culture. To do that, killing lots of people is unavoidable, and most of those killed will be from the poorer segments of society..

          • Owen_Morgan

            The greens are about as intolerant as you can get in a democracy. How could they be anything else? Everything they desire requires coercion, from what we eat, to what we drive (if we are permitted to drive anything), to how often we fly, to how long we live, to whether people are born in the first place, to our beliefs and the expression of our beliefs.

            That’s not free speech.

            Oh, and by the way, once islamic terrorists are free to roam our streets unimpeded, how long do you really imagine that any free speech will survive?

            • Dodgy Geezer

              I’m glad to find you agreeing so comprehensively with my position…

              • Owen_Morgan

                As long as neither of us is in danger of voting green, that’s fine by me.

          • Sean L

            But they’re not promoting free speech, whatever that’s supposed to mean, since there never has been and never could be an absolute liberty to say whatever one pleases, only greater freedom for enemies of the British state. Otherwise the Greens are likely to be more censorious and politically correct than the others.

          • Landscape

            I too support a couple of their ideas. renationalising the railways for one, like you, the decriminalising of drugs. But it seems most of the other things they stand for are ideological clap trap

        • Wessex Man

          I thought they were prodly boasting that this was their manifesto which they brought out early because ‘they have nothing to hide.’

      • Airey Belvoir

        Assuming that threre would still be an Army. Bennett made it clear that Greens would dismantle the Armed forces.

  • pyewacket

    Religion and politics should be kept well apart. Green philosophy is a lot like religious ideology. It’s OK to practice at home in the privacy of your own garden or chosen praying/get together centre. But I don’t want a Green theocracy with hug a terrorist tendencies. This is what it would amount to if the Greens came to power. Apart from the fantasy fiscal balancing act the Greens have in mind, I can’t believe they want to control what we watch on the telly as well. They want educational programmes forced down our necks at prime viewing time. Yeah there’s a loada rubbish on the box most times, but even so. The last thing I want is government control of TV schedules. Wot ever next? I don’t need no education thanks Nat!

  • swatnan

    What a great interview by Andrew Neill who is still the best and fairest interviewer around.Nat came off pretty badly. No Nat i don’t want to go to your website, I want you to tell me now how your policies don’t add up. Almost as bad as UKIP. They are not a party but a pressure group. And tensions dveloping around who is leader Caroline or Nat. It was embarrassing to watch. And that crap about freedom of expression was just crap. Yopu ro tolerance to those like ISIS that are intolerant bigots. Nat is an Appeaser; or if you prefer a doormat, and will decline in coming months.
    Strangely enough I saw a repeat of QT with skinhead Nuttal and thought, this is really a man of the peop;le and quite a worthy Leader of UKIP, because say what you will Fargage is still a Banker and part of the Establishment. Nuttall is a better representation of a protest Party even tho Nutall is a nutter and a fruitcake

    • grai

      Andrew Neil is a genius at what he does 90% of the time he is better informed than to politicians he is interviewing

      All he did here was ask the questions and let her show that the greens are simply not worth voting for in a month of sundays

    • Landscape

      swatnan, Almost as bad as Ukip? Far worse imo. I have looked at both parties policies as announced during their last conferences.
      I used to think Ukip were a ‘one policy party’, but they actually have a number of very good policies apart from leaving the EU and controlling immigration.
      More money for the NHS, more grammar schools, free degree courses for poorer students who choose to study science based degrees, or medical based, or engineering based degrees.
      One I really like is more direct democracy, i.e more referendums. if enough people sign a petition. 5% of the electorate. Do you think 5% might sign a petition to have a referendum on HS2? Overseas aid, while I’m all for lending a hand during a disaster, the fact we still give hundreds of millions if not billions away to China, India, Pakistan, Brazil etc is madness while we have people in this country homeless and having to go to food banks.
      There’s a lot more to Ukip than people think. Once you get past the media trying to paint them as a bunch of racists you realise that controlled immigration is a sensible idea. In fact the greens policy on immigration is far from green or sustainable.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    You’d have to be certifiable to vote green…………or a student………………or both.

  • Sean L

    I like how Brillo says yes I understand the *argument* . . . as if there was an argument for giving everyone £70 a week independently of generating the revenue to pay it. Scary that such a woman is taken seriously when you wouldn’t give her a job as a tea lady.

    • Owen_Morgan

      He was trying to get her to shut up. She wouldn’t answer any question, so he had to try to get the next one in. The greens have plainly adopted the labour tactic of the Blair-Brown years, where they just try to talk incessantly over the interviewer, preventing any new question. Most interviewers just let them rabbit on. Andrew Neil’s method gets them to stop talking.

      They can’t really argue, when the inteviewer has said that they have already made their point.

      • Sean L

        Yeah obviously. I just like how he does it. Besides, they don’t have many arguments as such. It’s mostly posturing.

  • Spotty Fellow

    If only our green left media in Australia would put the Australian Greens under this sort of scrutiny. If you truly knew the Green’s policies you would be voting for them to be incarcerated in mental health facility for free.

  • Stephen Milroy

    Left wing policies are manure. In other news, the grass grows, the sky is grey and mainstream politicians are liars..

  • eeore

    As my Gran used to say, “I’m not as green as I am cabbage looking.”

  • Conway

    Bennett said her party wants to ensure ‘nobody is living in fear’ but exactly how they would pay for that remains unanswered.” That’s somewhat at odds with her policy of destroying the armed forces, not being able to arm them (presumably bows and arrows will be green), leaving NATO (so we wouldn’t have any back up), having no border controls whatsoever and letting everybody join Al Quaida and the IRA. Given her other policies I’d be living in permanent fear!

  • Al

    I have watched A LOT of political interviews. This stands out as the most disastrous, humiliating and illuminating TV interviews ever. This bloody idiot could hold the balance of power in May. Last one out…

  • FreiGeborenEinzelne

    Just hilarious, but I should point out that our Nat wouldnt be in a car crash because she no doubt wants to ban them, so it may well be a horse & cart crash, or perhaps a bicycle for the well-heeled museli eating weirdo.

    • Mc

      Yes, I assume the lady walks everywhere. Nor does she consume anything, as doing so would involve burning fossil fuels.

  • Colonel Mustard

    The current personal tax free allowance is just over £9k. Her ‘citizens income’ would amount to £3.7k on which the basic rate of tax would have to be paid.

    She’s as mad as a box of frogs.

  • paulus

    I actually watched that , it was the most humiliating thing I ever saw, you can’t believe the labour party were running scared of these crackers.

    • fred finger

      You can believe it worries them, if there are a group of people who would vote for these loonies the green, rather than the Labour loony left. Might make others wonder about the collective intelligence of the left.

      • Wessex Man

        Don’t worry, strangely, their increased memberaship hasn’t been verified yet.

  • Chris

    After watching that interview with Natalie Bennett I think I would be less embarrassed saying I was an old friend of Jimmy Savile than telling people I was a member of The Green Party.
    And to think that these clowns go around looking down their noses at UKIP supporters.

    • Mc

      Amazing anyone votes for them.

  • Brimstone52

    Natalie Bennett demonstrates that the Greens are not of this planet.

  • TRAV1S

    Now we find out the Greens support the IRA, well done the people of Brighton, d*ckheads.

    • Brighton voter

      The popular vote went to the labour party, but with the first past the post system, this bunch of loonies got more seats. The Greens have been a joke and half there councillors and standing down after one term. Dont vote Green, like UKIP they are a wacky one pony party.

    • Olly boy

      Don’t tar us all with the same brush. I didn’t vote for them and now they’ve demonstrated they can’t run a bath hopefully they’ll never see government again!

  • Aethelflaed

    You can be a member of ISIS but you musn’t support violence ????
    You can be a member of ISIS but not UKIP ?????
    Everyone is to get £72 a week, and we want to encourage immigration ????

    Anyone voting Green must be off their tiny rocker – still they split the left, so they are useful idiots.

    • Conway

      Sadly, those Essex university students (I was one once, but I did at least live sufficiently in the real world to recognise whacky policies when I saw them) are a result of Blair’s edjookashun x 3.

    • Pootles

      Even more amusingly, they want the UK to have a ‘sustainable population’. Uh? Of what, 100 million?

      • Last Man Standing

        Pootles, you miss the point. If the indigenous British population is encouraged to leave then this will provide living room, or we could call it lebensraum, for the continuing wave of mass migration the Greens support.

        • Pootles

          Yes… I wonder where we’ll go? We can’t all squeeze into Brighton. Yours, a Mohican.

          • Wessex Man

            Australia? after all dear old dopey Natalie left there to be a burden on our lives here.

      • Airey Belvoir

        There are well-founded suspicions that the ‘official’ population statistics are far wide of the mark, and we may already be up to 75 million or more.

    • post_x_it

      I wouldn’t be so sanguine. Milit**t has already made noises to the effect that he would consider a coalition with these people. And then, my friend, we really are toast.

    • Airey Belvoir

      Bennett and the Greens are batshit crazy. Anyone who wants to know about life under the Greens has only to look at the chaotic, dysfunctional Brighton Council, one of the worst in Britain, even for Green obsessions like recycling.

  • Tim

    She was dreadful. A real shocker.

    Still, so long as Guardian reading types vote Green, they will split the left’s vote. Quick; hide her away in the same closet as Miliband!

  • stickywicket

    Toy town economics from a toy town party.


    • The Targe

      They will still get a big protest vote though.

      • Mikesomerset

        Thanks to the far left brainwashing campaign in our educational institutions!

      • disqus_XVbpeZ156A

        I do not think they will even qualify for the protest vote now, that may well go back to the Lib/Dems.

        • The Targe

          Indeed. Chances to make an impression are running out.

  • sfin

    The great news about the upsurge in the Green Party’s poll ratings has been the scrutiny of its policies.

    That is not a country I want to live in.

    • dado_trunking

      Listen, sfin – it doesn’t matter what the Greens say they believe in, free gluten free donuts for all for all I know, the believers will vote for them.
      That makes them not unlike the fruitcake followership. See wot I did there?

      • Wessex Man

        you tell us, did you sh** yourself in fear?