Why won't the Green Party talk more about green issues? Being something of a political junkie, I sat through the full two hours of the TV leaders' debate, (not the most enlightening evening I've ever spent in front of the TV...). I didn't expect much environmental discussion, but it was disappointing that the only time green issues came up was when Natalie Bennett made a passing reference to climate change.
In many ways this was no surprise. All of us who work in this field recognise that in a campaign with the economy, immigration, and the NHS the main topics of debate green issues would struggle to get a hearing. And of course the Green Alliance initiative to get all three main party leaders to sign a climate pledge was deliberately designed to keep the Climate Change Act out of the campaign crossfire.
And yet. During the recent smog episode when large parts of the UK recorded very high pollution ratings 'air pollution' was the top trending topic on Twitter for a significant amount of time - something I've never seen before. This says to me that even though the politicians aren't talking about the environment people do take notice as signs of specific environmental problems mount - especially those that affect their communities directly. Add to that the Green Party getting more media coverage than in any Election I can remember, and you'd think this would be a golden opportunity to get the environment back on the political agenda.
In practice though this is not happening. And ironically, the more political coverage the Green Party gets, the less it seems to talk about the environment. I've just looked at the Party's website, and can see only one small mention of an environmental issue well down the home page - the banner headlines are about the economy, the NHS, and housing. And in the campaign interviews I've seen with Natalie Bennett these are the issues which she talks about (to be fair they are also what her interviewers tend to focus on).