“Politics is going to break wide open”: Natalie Bennett speaks in Cambridge

Sam Rhodes 17 April 2015

In an event in Cambridge on Wednesday, the leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, articulated her priorities to an optimistic crowd. Alongside stating that the Greens believed in “a fair economy, a strong NHS and a stable climate”, cheers came from the audience as it was announced that the party had reached 60,000 members during the meeting.

Speaking with Guardian columnist Zoe Williams, Natalie Bennett voiced the party’s hopefulness, saying: “There’s a sense of possibility in the air – people can vote for what they really believe in”. This was later echoed by Green Party Cambridge Parliamentary candidate, Rupert Read, who told The Cambridge Student, that “people are feeling so energised… there’s a feeling that it’s just not good enough to vote tactically anymore”.

Bennett also argued that the Greens now stood for the belief that: “Everyone should have access to resources to live a comfortable life and that we should do that in a way that’s sustainable for our planet.” Also addressing student issues, Bennett said that the Green party would abolish tuition fees, alongside cancelling any existing student debt and reintroducing grants to cover students’ cost of living.

In response to a question from Williams over the cost of these ideas, Bennett stated that although the Green manifesto was fully costed, it was also important to focus on ideas and vision, rather than many who are “stuck in the mainstream of how do we pay for it and what are the economic benefits”.

Alongside her ideas for social justice and in front of many of the party faithful, Bennett also stressed environmental concerns: “Climate change is not a question of politics but physics”. She also emphasised the loss in biodiversity, an issue that, she claimed, no other leader had brought up in the debates.

After the event, a student described it as “very enjoyable” with “lots of fun ideas” and while they were “very impressed with Natalie Bennett, not so much Rupert Read”. Another, who had not yet decided who they would vote for, said that they were “much more likely to vote Green after that event”.

Campaigners too seemed pleased with the event, with Steven Lawrence, who has been a Green candidate in Cambridge for 15 years, said that it was “really nice to hear the two speakers in the flesh”, while Rupert Read “thought it was an excellent event … I was delighted by the turnout – the level of support was really encouraging … People are feeling energised.”