Natalie Bennett’s ineptitude, revealed again yesterday in another car crash interview, comes as no surprise to me. For over a year I belonged to a group (The Somers Town People’s Forum) campaigning to stop the building of the Francis Crick Institute(FCI), a huge laboratory situated next to St Pancras Station which will deal with extremely dangerous viruses. Bennett was part of the group.
One of her defining characteristics was her inability to think on her feet. So pronounced was this that she would simply refuse to debate a point with anyone who disagreed with her. Frankly, she is none too bright.
She is also dishonest. Bennett took a leading part in that campaign which lasted several years and ended in very predictable failure. That was because the project had the wholehearted support of both the Labour Government and the Tory Opposition. Campaigning on such grounds as danger to public health and its contravention of Camden Council’s own public planning policy was irrelevant, because the supposedly impartial decision on who should be allowed to purchase the site had been taken before the bidding process even closed. (There were several other serious bidders with alternative uses such as housing and commercial development). The decision was meant to be taken by the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the grounds of value for money. No one outside DCMS was meant to be involved. The other bidders were spending their money (and these types of bids are very expensive) with no hope of success.
The one serious chance to stop the building of the Institute was to expose the illegitimate nature of the decision on who should purchase the site. This I did using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The information gained by this means revealed that Gordon Brown when Prime Minister had intervened to ensure that the consortium backing the FCI bid got the land. The documents showing Brown’s interference can be read here. They should be read in the context of powerful men getting their will done through expressing their desires rather than issuing direct orders. However, many of the documents are directly explicit about the involvement.
At the time of the campaign Miss Bennett was editor of The Guardian Weekly, a post she occupied from December 2007 until March 2012. She was in a position to get the story of Gordon Brown’s illicit involvement in the bidding process into the mainstream media . I supplied her with copies of the documents showing Brown’s interference. Miss Bennett refused to use them. This was more than a little surprising because not only was she campaigning against the building of the FCI on the site, the interference was a category A political story and ostensibly one right up the Guardian’s street because it dealt with government misbehaviour behind closed doors. Miss Bennett also failed to use the information when she was called before the Commons Science and Technology committee to give evidence.
I will leave it to the reader to speculate about Miss Bennett’s motives for not using the information , but here are a few objective facts relevant to the question:
1. Despite being a mainstream journalist, she refused to use information which could have stopped the building of the FCI and which was, regardless of her involvement in the campaign against the FCI, the basis for a heavyweight political story.
2. Miss Bennett’s politics are hard core politically correct. The Prime Minister Miss Bennett refused to expose was someone very much to her political taste, namely, someone who headed a Government reeking with political correctness.
The honesty of her behaviour and words as leader of the Greens should be weighed in the context of her behaviour over the Francis Crick Institute campaign.
Photo by Hauke Sandhaus