Rafy Hay reports on Natalie Bennett’s botched response to an immigration question while on BBC
On Sunday 25th January, the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett seemed to have lost some of the wind in her sails as she stumbled on the issue of immigration. Andrew Neill, interviewing Bennett for BBC news show, The Sunday Politics, read aloud from the Greens’ manifesto, highlighting the immigration policy aimed at “progressively [reducing] UK immigration controls”.
Bennett then protested that this was a policy for “20 or 30 years hence”, but in a political climate with an increasing level of anti-immigration rhetoric, is this policy likely to be a vote-winner?
The Green Party are desperately trying to be seen as a viable alternative to Labour among young, disaffected voters, and have seen a 45% rise in membership in 2014 alone, a significant gain for a party often seen as one on the fringe of the public debate.
As the party starts becoming a political force, however, they will need much more clarity in their policies to be a real contender in May. Although many of their policies enjoy widespread support, many see the party as a protest vote, and some are unwilling to jeopardise a Labour majority in their constituency.
All three major parties and UKIP support increasing control on immigration, and whether the Greens will be able to sustain an open-door policy in a time of economic hardship is doubtful. They may try to frame themselves as the only option for people who oppose immigration controls, but it’s unlikely that this will prove successful considering the current state of British politics.
A more incisive policy for the Greens – and one which could appeal to both young voters and employers – might be to emphasise the kind of immigration that clearly benefits Britain, such as international students, which none of the other parties have thought to discuss.
The Green Party needs to start making their policies clearer and more recognisable. While directly opposing Labour might win some left wing votes, the Greens may need to take more universally popular policies to have a chance of winning multiple seats in May. But then, after adopting slightly different policies, the question will probably be: are they still the Greens?
Featured image credit: Scottish Greens via Flickr