Among all the negative comment from the grey media this week, one headline from the Daily Mirror grabbed my attention (Link to Article):
'Stop talking about hedgehogs!': Green Party leader Natalie Bennett given interview advice by media experts
The article claims that "exasperated" media experts have been drafted in to improve Natalie's communication skills and that they have told the "gaffe-prone party chief" to stop talking about hedgehogs. The extremely carefully worded and admittedly amusing hatchet job of an article goes on to state:
"She believes the cute but spiky back garden creatures will help win over key support as the election campaign hots up. A source inside a recent prickly session revealed: “She kept saying the most important message to get across was on hedgehogs. She kept telling us British people just love hedgehogs. In the end we had to tell her - stop talking about hedgehogs, and start talking about housing and the economy.”
The point of the article was to present Natalie as both out of touch with the person on the street and eccentric, with the implication that the rest of the party is as well. I'm surprised the term 'tree-hugging' didn't appear. The fact that all I have ever heard Natalie talk about in interviews recently is social issues such as housing, the economy and social justice doesn't stop the Daily Mirror implying the opposite. My fear is that the party will react to such grubby journalism by taking its advice or rather by taking the advice of the "media expert" it claims to have used as "a source inside".
This would be the wrong approach. The best approach to such drivel is to laugh at it. Embrace it and throw it back in their faces.
People are fed up with politicians who talk from a script about a series of set issues which the policy wonks deem to be the key battlegrounds. What you get is the same old predictable stilted comments with the same old rote learned phrases in them. Everyone scared of talking "off message" and being honest. It looks false and it is false.
As the Green Party we need to be proud of our ecological underpinning. The election campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness. Yes we need to talk about the big economic and social issues but also top stand up and be proud of our aims to combat climate change, promote renewable energy and reverse the decline in our wildlife. If we don't no other party will. To give in is to cave in to mockery which is weak and self defeating.
They can only laugh at you if you aren't laughing with them.
I have never hugged a tree in my life and I don't intend to do it just to prove a point. That would be equally false. However we need to talk from the heart about the issues that we care about. That is what I will do. I am a media expert free zone.
According to the Mirror article, Natalie has stated:
“Hedgehogs are an iconic species. The collapse of their population is a symbol and sign of how much damage has been done by industrial agriculture that has removed hedgerows and other natural refuges and blanketed our countryside in pesticides. Industrial agriculture combined with housing sprawl and traffic growth is ravaging our natural environment.”
Damn right. I hope that we all keep saying this and keep highlighting the catastrophic decline in UK wildlife. If the average "media expert" doesn't get it then send him/her a cuddly toy hedgehog with "Best wishes from The Green Party" on it.