"That will spelt out in our manifesto". Photo: Getty
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Natalie Bennett's incredibly awkward interview with LBC

“Right, what – what we’re looking at, in terms of the figures here um – what we need to do is actually [silence] er… we’re looking at a total spend of 2. 7 [pause] billion…”

Today is the big day of the Green party campaign launch. So, naturally, the Green leader Natalie Bennett took part in a series of live radio discussions this morning about her party’s manifesto. What could have possibly gone wrong?

listen to ‘Incredibly Awkward Interview With Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett’ on audioBoom

Here’s a snippet of the interview, transcribed before this mole could listen no longer:

(Nick Ferrari – NF/ Natalie Bennett – NB)

NF - The third key theme is that the Greens will ensure everyone has a secure, affordable place to live – how would that be brought about?

NB- Well – a couple of things we want to focus on here. In terms of council housing we want to build 500,000 new social rent homes…

NF - Good Lord. Where will you get the money from for that?

NB- Well what we want to do is fund that particularly by removing the tax relief on mortgage interest for private landlords. We have a situation where private landlords at the moment… basically running away with the situation of hugely rising rents, collecting large amounts of housing benefits

NF- But how much would that be worth – the mortgage relief for private landlords?

NB - Erm, well, it’s, that’s part of the whole costing of all of this…

NF - The cost of 500,000 homes – let’s start with that – how much is that going to be?

NB - Right, well that’s erm... you’ve got a total cost um that will be spelt out in our manifesto…

NF- So you don’t know?

NB - [Inaudible response]

NF - No you don’t, right.

NF - So we don’t know how much those homes are going to cost but the way it’s going to be funded is mortgage relief from private landlords – how much is that worth?

NB - Right, what – what we’re looking at, in terms of the figures here um – what we need to do is actually [silence] er… we’re looking at a total spend of 2. 7 [pause] billion…

NF - 500,000 – 2.7 billion – what are they made of, plywood?

NB - Um, basically, what we’re talking about is 500,000 new homes and each £1 spent on these brings back £2.40

No – but what is the total cost of 500,000 new homes?

[Painful silence]

Painful indeed.

I'm a mole, innit.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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