I have therefore been reflecting on this and on leadership in general. In my opinion Natalie has done brilliantly as an organiser and taken the Green Party so far forward that we now have 60,000 members and are the third biggest party in England. But it is also my opinion that she doesn't appear to have the gift of the gab.
This may not be altogether a bad thing. Tony Blair unquestionably did have this gift in spades. He could lie about weapons of mass destruction evidence with such skill that he even appeared to convince himself. Gordon Brown and Ed Balls told us very clearly that they had put an end to boom and bust - just before the biggest bust in my lifetime.
David Cameron is also a very effective speaker. When he told us at the last election that he would put an end to top down re-organisations of health and education and nurses could safely vote for him it was a very convincing performance. He then proceeded to implement the biggest ever reform of the health service, of education, and to kick off such confusion in the welfare system that he wasn't even able to implement the reforms he'd planned.
During the last election campaign the real winner of the golden words competition was Nick Clegg. "I agree with Nick" became a big theme of the campaign. He sounded really convincing on the environment. He spoke with confidence about getting rid of tuition fees and issued us with guarantee cards. Then he trebled the fees.
As for UKIP, you have to hand it to Nigel. He speaks very effectively and is quick on his feet. He works really hard on coming across as a reasonable bloke, someone who is simply representing the views of the man in the pub. I was therefore a touch surprised to learn from the UKIP candidate in our constituency that Nigel rides to hounds regularly and is very fond of a good fox hunt. The contrast with the common man image could not be more acute. And the common woman in the pub better not be breast feeding when he buys his stirrup cup.
Well expressed words don't count for much when wisdom and character are missing. So let's be very careful about following people who sound plausible and can put things convincingly.
In this election the Conservatives are telling us that Britain is Back and the economy is almost fixed. Everything will be fine if we let them finish the job of the long term economic plan. Actually their plan is a badly costed mess. It depends on a prediction of 2.4% economic growth every year for the next 5 years. I don't believe that will happen. Do you? It depends on asking us not to notice that the balance of payments in 6% in deficit. I think this is a really big problem. It is what happens when you build your economy on oil and banking instead of investing to be at the forefront of the next wave of the industrial revolution - the move to a circular sustainable economy. The Conservative long term economic plan also depends on an assumption that thinking long term doesn't involve worrying about pumping CO2 into the atmosphere or dumping plastic in the sea. All the talk about not inflicting problems onto the next generation quickly goes out of the door when you start asking for proper investment into low energy technology, home insulation or securing the next phase of green energy production.
So for me, if Natalie is taking seriously the challenge of sorting out the economy without imposing austerity on the poor, the vulnerable, and the nurses then I think we might cut her a bit of slack if she doesn't always put this across as well as we might like under challenge. What would you rather have? Someone who sincerely tells you he supports the big society and then seizes the assets of housing associations to win a few last minute votes? A set of Labour politicians who were almost all involved in sending us to a series of bad wars and in letting the banking sector go for broke but now talk a good game. A Lib Dem leader who made one of the biggest broken promises of all time in order to get power.
Need I go on!! If you like the Greens - don't worry about our lack of polished image or the lack of polish of one of our two leaders. Vote for your beliefs!