Tag Archives: Interview

Why did Green leader Natalie Bennett choose a newspaper apology for a broadcast disaster?

It is both admirable and sadly telling that Natalie Bennett took to the pages of the Guardian today to apologise for her ‘car-crash interview’ on LBC radio yesterday.

It is admirable in the sense that it stands in stark contrast to the political culture of today where the public pushes an unrealistic expectation of perfection that is perpetuated by a media and political arrogance.

Natalie’s apology reads as a genuine breath of fresh air. We all fuck up. She’s embarrassed and sorry that she did on this occasion – an occasion that should have been about her party.

Fine – let’s move on.

That said, it is also worryingly telling that she choose (or her PR team choose) to take to the pages of the Guardian to make this well-crafted apology.

When the going gets tough, this particular political leader resorts to that comfy home-ground for her; the liberal-left leaning print media (and her former employer).

If she wanted to offer both a heart-felt apology and a sign to show that she has the statesmanship to someday rule this country (surely the ultimate aim of any party) then would not a heartfelt TV interview have been better placed?

Her apology is welcome but it does still leave many wondering – can Natalie Bennett do Green Party policies justice when put on the big stage alongside skilled (and highly trained) orators such as Cameron, Clegg and (to a lesser extent) Miliband?

I’m still not sure.

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Listen to the Green leader’s car crash of an interview

It – was – really – painful.

There is no other way to describe it. Throw away comments like ‘a car-crash of an interview’ suddenly seem suitably apt. Natalie Bennett’s interview on LBC this morning was one of the worst I have heard from a party leader – ever!

If you haven’t already and have the stomach for it, then have a listen:

For a long time I have argued that Natalie Bennett has revolutionised the Green’s media presence. Whether this was utilising her experience in the industry – she used to work as the editor of the Guardian Weekly – or whether she has just rode the wave of the ‘Green surge’ is unclear. But the results are clear. There has been much more and better coverage of Green politics in the UK’s print media.

But, that said, there has been a continuous disparity between the consistent, and quite impressive, coverage Natalie has secured in the print media with the consistently below par appearances on broadcast media. This car-crash didn’t come out of the blue – there have been a series of skids, near misses and dented body work that should have warned of the forth coming three lane pile up of a car crash.

Remember this?

With this in my mind, one wonders whether the Green’s hard thought victory of being included in the Leader’s TV debates will be as much a blessing as they might have hoped. How will she hold up to the oratory skills of Cameron, Clegg or, to a lesser extent, Miliband?

Only time will tell.

Finally though it is worth highlighting, just like Guido Fawkes has, that it is refreshing that Natalie at least had the moral and political courage to then apologise to her party for the poor showing – how many other party leaders would have done that?

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The BBC today failed to show The Green Party a basic level of respect


The Green Party leader was this morning on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today Programme’.

The BBC radio schedule previewed her appearance with this description:

BBC Radio

Curious then that after the brief introduction, this issue seemed to slip from the whole interview. Instead the presenter, John Humphrys, decided to focus in on the pressing question of whether voters misunderstand ‘The Green Party’ to be purely interested in environmental issues.

Despite Natalie Bennett, The Green Party leader’s, best efforts to drag the interview back on course Humphry’s seemed obsessed with coming back to the issue of re-branding the party.

What this had to do with whether or not The Green Party should be included in the televised leaders debate remains unclear.

In short, the interview was in my opinion utter baloney.

Imagine, if the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, went onto the Today programme on the same pretext, and the interviewer chose to quite bizarly just focus on in on whether or not the word ‘Labour’ really reflects the party’s policies?

It would never happen.

Why? Because John Humphry, and institutionally the BBC, even if they do not agree with Labour’s policies take the party seriously.

The same cannot be said to be true about The Green Party.

Now…ask yourself a further question: Why do people not vote for The Green Party even if they support most of their policies?

Two answers jump to mind. The first is the electoral system (for the General Election) – people worry about voting Green being a ‘wasted vote’. I can’t blame the BBC for that.

The second reason though is that The Green Party is often just not taken seriously. They are perceived to be political lightweights. Ask yourself where this perception comes from and invariably we come full circle. The answer, at least in part, is found in the inaccurate and derogatory political representation they suffer in the media.

While this is frustrating in partisan newspapers, it is simply unacceptable in the nonpartisan BBC.

The reality of this media environment means that The Green Party struggle for serious representation with any outlet other than a handful of sympathetic Guardian Journalists.

I don’t expect the BBC to give The Green Party an easy ride, but I do expect a degree of respect. This morning the Today programme failed to deliver this.

UPDATE:

Interesting from the reaction on twitter I am not the only person to feel like this:

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Talking on Russia Today about Israel/Palestine and International Humanitarian Law

Have a watch of me being interviewed on RT (Russia Today) on Israel/Palestine and International Humanitarian Law.

This video is about a year old but I’ve only just stumbled across it. No laughing at me not being able to hear the presenter nor the hesitant roundabout answers.

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Molly Scott Cato: “The Greens are seeing a strong but steady increase, especially in the South West.”

Molly Cato Scott is a green economist as well as The Green Party’s lead candidate for the European Parliament elections in the South West of England. Molly passionately believes that at the heart of our environmental problems is a badly designed economic system. Steve Hynd recently caught up with Molly to find out why she thought standing for election will help solve either the economic or environmental crises we currently face.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you think you are qualified to represent the South West of England in the European Parliament?

I have been working as a green economist for the past 15 years. I have been involved in the Green Party for 23 years including standing in general elections and European elections and I am now leader of the Green Group on Stroud District Council, where we are part of the administration.

I hope that I can use this experience to best represent everyone living in the South West.

What way will a Green MEP for the South West look different to any of the others?

The Green Group in the European Parliament is doing great work challenging the interests of finance in Europe and resisting the increasing inequality between North and South. Oh and of course protecting workers’ rights and the environment!

I would like to be a part of that, helping to Green the Common Agricultural Policy for example. The EU spends a lot of money in the south-west of England but at present it does not have to achieve real environmental objectives, I would be seeking to change that.

Can you explain why the European Parliament elections affect ordinary people living and working in the South West?

There are so many ways. To give just one example, the rules that govern the single market that we operate within are made by the EU so it is vital that we are contributing positively to making sure that they achieve the best for the South West.

When people vote in the European Elections, they vote for a party, not for an individual. Do you agree with everything the Green Party stands for and if not, what will you do if you have to choose between personal beliefs and party policy?

I sometimes wonder if I might disagree, but when I read party policy I find that I agree. I used to be a bit tepid about the banking policy but I worked with a friend to change the policy so it’s fine now–no, it’s excellent!

I think we could do with emphasising the political economy implications of some of our policies a bit more. So for example on immigration we should, of course, be fighting the racist attacks on migrant workers but we should also be arguing for better global protection of workers’ rights in a globalised economy

How do you explain the recent rise in popularity in UKIP and the relative flat-lining of the Greens? Do you think this will be the same in the upcoming election? 

I don’t think you are right to say that the Greens are flat-lining. The Greens are seeing a strong but steady increase, especially in the South West. Our main problem is the media, who focus on the daft, shallow stories about UKIP and tend to ignore our more serious issues. It is incredibly hard to get journalists to deal seriously with either Europe or the environment. A shame on them and a pity for us all. I think Zoe Williams had it pretty much right with her analysis of why UKIP get such attention from the media.

What is the one thing you hope to achieve if elected to the European Parliament?

One thing? You aren’t very ambitious!

I will focus on the stuff where I think I can make the most difference: finance and the single market. It is hard to know how far I can go until I understand the politics better from the inside. I would like to take my understanding of finance into the parliament, because I am not sure how many of the Greens really understand what went wrong with the Eurozone crisis. I also think we should work for more local supply of food and against the endless increase in pointless and energy-intensive trade.

You have previously written on the importance of working shorter working hours and yet you are applying for a job with some of the longest, have you thought about how personally you are going to balance that?

I have thought about this. I think that it would be a sacrifice to be away from Stroud. I think that most politicians make a similar sacrifice and it is one reason that the attacks on politicians are pretty unfair. But there are times when the parliament is out of session when I will be delighted to jump onto Eurostar and come home.

If elected, will you continue as a Stroud District Councillor? 

Absolutely not, the time commitments would make it impossible.

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Eugene Grant: “I prefer the term dwarf”

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Eugene Grant is a dwarf and the founder of the viral site EveryDayDwarfism that chronicles the day-to-day experiences of what it is like to be a dwarf in 21 century Britain. Despite his experiences, Grant is optimistic that he can contribute to changing people’s understanding of dwarfism. Steve Hynd caught up with him to find out more.  

For many readers the term ‘dwarf’ is one they are not familiar with. I know some people are nervous about using it, afraid that it is derogatory. Can you tell us what the word means to you?

I personally much prefer the term ‘dwarf’ as opposed to others like ‘midget’, which many dwarfs I know find offensive. But, for me – and this is where the whole idea of political correctness becomes redundant – what’s more important are the intentions behind the terms used.

People can be ‘politically correct’ but employ such words with malicious intent; others may use quite derogatory terms without any idea or intention of insulting or hurting a person. It all depends on the way such terms are framed.

Can you tell us a little about why you set up EveryDayDwarfism?  

The aim behind EveryDayDwarfism is to document and present just some of the things that I – and my partner who also has dwarfism – go through during our day or week. Its purpose is to try to make people just that little bit more aware as to the things we encounter as dwarfs.

A lot of what we experience, I would put down to stigma and discrimination still being relatively acceptable to lots of people. The whole tone of the site is not supposed to be angry or ‘martyr-ish’, but relatively neutral, matter-of-fact and informative.

It’s to say: ‘these things happen, quite regularly. I just wanted you to know’.

Within the EveryDaySexism movement, there is a strong feeling of finally ‘shouting back’. Within EveryDayDwarfism it also feels like there is quite a lot of rage, is this an important element of responding to discrimination?

It depends what you mean by rage. Rage is very important but it needs to be channelled in the right way and used very carefully.

Leaving out abuse in the form of physical violence, I think when responding to discrimination it’s vital to ask oneself: ‘what is it that I want to achieve here?’ and, more importantly, ‘how will I get this person to change the way they think and act towards me and others like me’.

Can you tell us a bit about how you coped with the attention and discrimination before you started chronicling it on EveryDayDwarfism?

It really depends on two things: the type of abuse, attention or discrimination, and the intentions behind it.

Some abuse – e.g. an individual shouting insults from a moving car – is best left ignored. What can you achieve when they’re 100 metres down the road by the time they’ve finished their sentence?

Others – the attention from a small child for example – is normally fine; although, as I wrote on the site, it’s often the reaction – or lack thereof – from the parents that is the most frustrating thing.

Some abuse though might manifest itself in the form of totally unprovoked physical violence or confrontation.

Have you been in contact with other dwarfs, how do they feel about EveryDayDwarfism? Do others relate to your experiences?

It’s very important that people don’t think that EveryDayDwarfism or my own experiences reflect those of other dwarfs; I can’t speak for them. Not even my partner.

However, I do know that lots of people like me experience such things – sometimes less so, sometimes more so.

If you had one message to the metaphorical guy in the street who tries to take a photo of you with his phone, what would it be?

Just stop, for a moment, and think: What are you doing? Why are you doing this? Why would you or your friends find that photo or film to be of any value or interest? What does that say about your character, as an adult, and how you think about and respond to people who are different? What if I was your brother, son or cousin? How would you see it then?

A bit of a long message!

You wrote for the Guardian about the portrayal of dwarfs in the media, do you see EveryDayDwarfism as an effort to counter some of that through the illustration of agency?

Not really, no. Sadly, but also deliberately, EveryDayDwarfism documents some of the negative things that happen. And in this way, there is a negative tone to the blog.

What I was trying to say in the article you mention was that there needs to be more boring, regular, neutral representation of dwarfism in the media – weather reporters, Masterchef contestants, Question Time panelists, kids on CBBC – whatever.

Basically, more portrayals of dwarfism that do not limit that person’s identity to ‘a dwarf’ but reflects what they really are: a citizen, a parent, a doctor or lawyer, a voter, someone with views, ideas, etc.

What has been the reaction of family and friends to EveryDayDwarfism, are they shocked to hear of such day-to-day encounters? 

It was actually as a result of encouragement from friends to set up EveryDayDwarfism that I did.

Often friends have no idea of the things that I – and lots of others like me – encounter on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Some have even been in situations with me when there has been abuse or something happen. Quite often, they are absolutely shocked at the way some people behave. It’s not a question of going looking for abuse or discrimination – that’s not a productive or positive way to live – it’s that, a lot of the time, this stuff finds youseeks you out, interrupts your day, your evening, when you’re just trying to live your life. And that’s what I wanted people to realise.

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