Natalie Bennett

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The Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle
Official portrait of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle crop 2.jpg
Natalie Bennett pictured in 2019
Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
In office
3 September 2012 – 2 September 2016
DeputyWill Duckworth (2012–2014)
Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali (2014–2016)
Preceded byCaroline Lucas
Succeeded byJonathan Bartley and
Caroline Lucas
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
7 October 2019
Life Peerage
Personal details
Born
Natalie Louise Bennett

(1966-02-10) 10 February 1966 (age 54)
Eastwood, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyGreen Party of England and Wales
Alma materUniversity of Sydney, Australia
University of New England, Australia
University of Leicester, UK

Natalie Louise Bennett, Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle[1] (born 10 February 1966) is a British politician and journalist. She led the Green Party of England and Wales from September 2012 to September 2016.[2][3][4] Bennett was given a peerage in Theresa May's 2019 resignation honours.[5]

Born and raised in Australia, she began her career as a journalist with regional newspapers in New South Wales before leaving in 1995 for Thailand, where she worked for Australian Volunteers International and the Bangkok Post newspaper over the next four years. Since settling in Britain in 1999 she has contributed to the Guardian, Independent and Times newspapers. Her election as leader of the Greens came six years after she joined the party in January 2006.

Early life[edit]

Bennett was born on 10 February 1966 in Eastwood, a suburb of Sydney, Australia,[6][7] the daughter of John and Joy Bennett.[8] She was born to working class teenage parents: a part-time secretary and an apprentice carpenter. Her mother was killed in a car crash in 1989.[9]

Having been awarded a scholarship, she was educated at MLC School, an independent day school for girls in Burwood, New South Wales.[7][10] She then took the degrees of Bachelor of Agricultural Science (BAgrSc Hons) at the University of Sydney, Bachelor of Arts (BA Hons) in Asian Studies at the University of New England and Master of Arts (MA) in Mass Communication from the University of Leicester, graduating from the latter in 2001.[6][11][12] She was the first member of her family to attend university.[9]

Journalism[edit]

Bennett began her career in journalism in New South Wales, where she worked for various regional newspapers including the Northern Daily Leader in Tamworth. She left Australia in 1995,[10] and lived for four years in Thailand where she worked for Australian Volunteers International in the Office of the National Commission of Women's Affairs, before moving to the Bangkok Post newspaper, where she was chief foreign sub-editor.

She settled in the United Kingdom in 1999, and said in a 2013 interview for the Australian Inside Story website about the country of her birth: "I can’t imagine going there by choice."[10] In Britain, Bennett has written for The Guardian's "Comment is Free" section since 2006.[13] Bennett was also a blogger.[14] She was deputy editor and then editor of The Guardian Weekly from December 2007 until March 2012. She has also worked for the London-based Independent and Times newspapers.[12] In 2012, she took voluntary redundancy and left journalism.[9]

Political career[edit]

Natalie Bennett joined the Green Party on 1 January 2006.[10] Later the same year she stood for the Greens in the Camden Council election in the Regent's Park ward and again in the Camden Council election of 2010 in the Somers Town ward, but was not elected on either occasion. She was the internal communications coordinator on the national executive of the party from September 2007 to August 2011.

In January 2010, she was selected to stand for the Parliamentary seat of Holborn and St Pancras.[15] She came fourth with 2.7% of the vote.[12] She stood next in the London Assembly elections of 2012, as the fourth placed candidate on the London-wide list for the Green Party.[16]

House of Lords[edit]

Bennett was nominated for a life peerage in September 2019,[17] and was created Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, of Camden in the London Borough of Camden, on 7 October 2019.[18][19] She becomes the Green Party of England and Wales' second current member of the House of Lords, joining Jenny Jones, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb. She was introduced to the Lords on 15 October 2019 by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb and John Bird, Baron Bird,[20] and made her maiden speech on 17 October 2019.[21]

Political positions and standpoints[edit]

Bennett in "Take Back Our World! - Global Justice Now" in 2015.
Natalie Bennett campaigning in Cambridge during the general election of 2015.

Bennett has considered herself a feminist since she was a young child, claiming that it was her "first politics".[22] She also founded the Green Party women's group and was a trustee of the Fawcett Society between 2010 and 2014. She became interested in environmental issues when she obtained a degree in Agricultural Sciences.[12] She is in favour of abolishing the monarchy.[23] In an April 2015 interview, she said that she supports the Green Party policy of an economic and cultural boycott of Israel, and also thought that Britain should cease arms sales to Saudi Arabia.[24] She has also voiced support for polygamy and polyamorous relationships.[25]

Green Party leader[edit]

On 3 September 2012, Bennett replaced Caroline Lucas as leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.[26] 3,127 ballot papers were returned in the 2012 Green Party leadership elections, a turnout of 25.1%.[2] This turnout was explained by Bennett in a BBC interview: "if you hold an election in the month of August you kind of expect that turnout won't be particularly high".[27] On election as party leader Bennett told a press conference that the policies of the Green Party were "the only viable way forward for British people, for the world".[3]

In May 2014 she was selected again to contest the Parliamentary seat of Holborn and St Pancras.[28] She was re-elected unopposed as leader of the party in September 2014.

In February 2015, an interview with Bennett regarding the funding of house-building on the talk radio station LBC was described by her as "absolutely excruciating".[29] In a halting interview on LBC in which she struggled to explain how her party would pay for 500,000 new council homes it is pledging to build. She told Nick Ferrari the policy would cost £2.7bn, prompting the presenter to ask: “Five hundred thousand homes – £2.7bn? What are they made of – plywood?”

In January 2015 Ofcom ruled to exclude the Green Party from the televised debates surrounding the 2015 election, on the grounds that the party had not demonstrated "significant past electoral support in General Elections".[30] This ruling led to an upsurge in Green Party support after Bennett called the ruling "disgraceful and indefensible" and David Cameron claimed that he was "quite happy for there to be no debates at all" if the Green Party was not included.[31][32] This decision was later reversed, after which the Green Party's support increased again.[33] The seven-way debate ultimately took place on 2 April, with Bennett present.

Bennett came third in the election to the Labour and Conservative candidates, and in 2016, at the end of her second two-year term, did not stand for re-election as leader.[34] At the party's 2016 autumn conference in Birmingham, Lucas and Jonathan Bartley were elected as co-leaders of the party in a job-share arrangement.[35][36][37][38]

2017 UK general election[edit]

On 7 October 2016, it was announced that Bennett had been selected to contest the Sheffield Central constituency for the Green Party in the 2017 UK general election.[39] Bennett's candidacy saw a drop of 7.8% in the share of Green votes as well as a drop in its position from second to third (out of eight candidates) with 3,848 votes.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Natalie Bennett is single and lives in Sheffield.[41] During her time as leader her partner was Jim Jepps, a left-wing activist who was a member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) for approximately a decade before leaving it around 2003.[42][43]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Editor, Thailand Country Study: Best Practice Guide on Sustainable Action Against Child Labour (1998) ISBN 974-8369-59-5[44]
  • Editor, Women's Health and Development, Country Profile Thailand[45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Contact information for Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle - MPS and Lords - UK Parliament". Archived from the original on 8 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b "New Leader and Deputy Leader announcement". Green Party. 3 September 2012. Archived from the original on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Natalie Bennett elected new Green Party leader in England and Wales. She beat three other candidates to the position in a poll of Green Party members". BBC. Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  4. ^ Green Party: Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley elected as co-leaders Archived 24 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine.
    'They saw off competition from five others to succeed Natalie Bennett, who is stepping down after four years'.
    BBC News Archived 7 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Published 2 September 2016. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Resignation Honours 2019". gov.uk. Cabinet Office. 10 September 2019. Archived from the original on 10 September 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  6. ^ a b "BENNETT, Natalie Louise". Who's Who 2014. A & C Black. November 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  7. ^ a b Langley, William (1 March 2015). "Natalie Bennett - a little green around the gills". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 8 April 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  8. ^ "Bennett, Natalie Louise", Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014 ; online edn, Nov 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2015 (subscription required).
  9. ^ a b c Totaro, Paola (30 April 2015). "Natalie Bennett: From 'Jillaroo' to Green Party leader". BBC News. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d Ferraro, Carmela. "Force of nature" Archived 27 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Inside Story. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  11. ^ "Leicester's greenest girl". .le.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d Rath, Kayte. "Profile: Green Party leader Natalie Bennett". BBC News. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Natalie Bennett Profile". The Guardian web site. London: Guardian News and Media Limited. 2 June 2008. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  14. ^ Evans, Kate (17 April 2006). "How to Run a Carnival of Feminists: Natalie Bennett". Life Matters. ABC Radio National. Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2009. (web note of a broadcast interview)
  15. ^ "Green Party name Natalie Bennett as Holborn and St Pancras election candidate". Camden New Journal. 22 April 2010. Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Green Party leader Natalie Bennett turns fire on Labour". BBC News. 7 September 2012. Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  17. ^ Glaze, Ben (9 September 2019). "Shameless Theresa May gives gongs to more than 40 of her political cronies". mirror. Archived from the original on 21 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  18. ^ "No. 62794". The London Gazette. 11 October 2019. p. 18260.
  19. ^ "Former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett named after new Sheffield home as she is elevated to House of Lords". www.yorkshirepost.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Introduction: Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle: 15 Oct 2019: House of Lords debates". TheyWorkForYou. 15 October 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  21. ^ Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (17 October 2019). "Queen's Speech". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. col. 217–220.
  22. ^ Graham, Sarah (10 March 2014). "Natalie Bennett: Feminism is". Feministtimes.com. Archived from the original on 29 May 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Natalie Bennett and the Green manifesto: zero growth, free condoms, no monarchy". The Week. 12 March 2015. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  24. ^ Rashdy, Sandy (17 April 2015). "Green leader Natalie Bennett backs cultural boycott of Israel". The Jewish Chronicle. London. Archived from the original on 10 July 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  25. ^ Duffy, Nick (1 May 2015). "Green Party wants every teacher to be trained to teach LGBTIQA+ issues". Pink News. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  26. ^ "A new leader will not push the Green Party off the political fringe". The Economist. 8 September 2012. Archived from the original on 16 December 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  27. ^ "Natalie Bennett elected as Green Party leader". BBC News (Daily Politics video). BBC. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  28. ^ "Natalie Bennett selected to contest Holborn and St Pancras at 2015 General Election". Green Party. 4 May 2014. Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  29. ^ "Natalie Bennett admits LBC Radio interview was 'absolutely excruciating'". The Independent. 24 February 2015. Archived from the original on 25 February 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  30. ^ "Ofcom". 14 September 2016. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  31. ^ "Cameron won't join election TV debates if Greens not included after Ofcom ruling — RT UK". Rt.com. Archived from the original on 17 August 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  32. ^ "Natalie Bennett: Leader's debates will not be a fair representation of politics if Greens are excluded". Green Party. 13 October 2014. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  33. ^ "Leaders' Debates announced - Green Party statement". Green Party. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  34. ^ Williams, Joe (8 May 2015). "Green Party leader Natalie Bennett loses election bid, comes third". PinkNews. London. Archived from the original on 9 May 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  35. ^ 'Natalie Bennett to step down as Green Party leader Archived 2 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine'.
    BBC NEWS. Published 16 May 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  36. ^ 'Green party leader Natalie Bennett to quit at end of August Archived 23 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine'.
    The Independent. Published 15 May 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  37. ^ 'Natalie Bennett to step down as Green party leader Archived 2 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine'.
    The Guardian [online]. Published 15 May 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  38. ^ "Green Party: Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley elected as co-leaders". BBC News. 2 September 2016. Archived from the original on 24 March 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  39. ^ News, B. B. C. (7 October 2016). "Greens' Natalie Bennett to contest Sheffield Central seat". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  40. ^ BBC Election 2017 - Sheffield Central Archived 6 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Published 9 June 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  41. ^ "Natalie Bennett@ Why I am determined to turn Sheffield Green". The Yorkshire Post. 14 December 2016. Archived from the original on 19 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  42. ^ Lamden, Tim (2 April 2015). "Green Party leader Natalie Bennett: That car crash interview will keep following me". Ham&High. Archived from the original on 7 May 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  43. ^ Jepps, Jim. "Five things I learned when leaving the SWP". The nice badge man. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  44. ^ "Thailand Country Study Towards a Best Practice Guide on Sustainable Action Against Child Labour". International Labour Organisation. January 1998. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013. (Copy of the paper on Bennett's web site)
  45. ^ "Women's Health and Development: Country Profile, Thailand:Authors". Women's Health and Development. World Health Organization. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013. (Copy of the paper on Bennett's web site)

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Patrick Ensor
Editor of The Guardian Weekly
2007–2012
Succeeded by
Abby Deveney
Party political offices
Preceded by
Caroline Lucas
Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
2012–2016
Succeeded by
Jonathan Bartley
Caroline Lucas