The Conservative stronghold of Stratford upon Avon seems an unlikely venue to talk about political revolution, but that didn't deter the Green Party leader from accepting an invitation from the local Greens to come and share her very different vision for Britain.
It was an evening full of surprises, starting with an eye-opening turnout that was more than treble what the organisers had ever dared dream of. However, with a thousand people a month now joining the Green Party, perhaps they shouldn't have been so conservative with their estimates.
I first saw Natalie Bennett speak 18 months ago and I was very pleasantly surprised to see how much she's grown as a party leader. She's always been good at Q&A sessions, but this time she delivered a very confident, accomplished and unscripted speech that covered everything from attacks on Amazon and Russell Brand to a positive referendum on the EU and relatively brief mention of the environment.
The environmental brevity was no surprise to me, a Green Party member, but it is revelatory if not revolutionary for all those who think the environment's the only thing we care about. Ms Bennett told us why she's no fan of the Russell Brand variety of revolution, reminding us what happens when people don't vote. We end up with power-hungry people who represent the marginal views of those who could be bothered to turn out.
For the Greens, revolution means grassroots democracy. Everybody getting actively involved in 'doing' politics rather than moaning how politics is something done to them. That's why I'm penning this blog. I'd admittedly become an inactive party member and Huffington Post blogger, but I can easily 'do' politics by writing for the democratic mass social media about my first-hand experience of listening to the Green Party leader who is routinely ignored by the mainstream media.
Let me tell you, the Greens are no one-trick pony. Of course, they're anti-fracking and pro hedgehogs, but equally, Natalie Bennett wants to make sure multinationals, like Amazon, pay full corporation tax. She wants a living wage paid to everyone in work. She wants to renationalise public transport to support people out of work, who can't afford cars, to be able to get to where the jobs are. An end to zero and low-hours' contracts that stop ordinary people planning a life. An end to austere benefits cuts that have resulted in the proliferation of food banks and charity in the world's sixth richest economy. The NHS to remain a public service, with no place for the profit motive. University education free from tuition fees instead of a fast-track to debts owed to financial institutions.
These are the 'radical' Green Party policies that deserve to be heard by everyone. It's outrageous that Natalie Bennett has been denied the opportunity to take part in the General Election TV debates, but she's not sulking. Far from it, she's busy talking in civic halls up and down the UK, urging us all to be politically proactive and stop moaning about our failed political system; to turn out in vast numbers and vote for polices, not personalities. She reminds me of John Major and his soapbox. While the boys fight it out with campaigns reliant on gloss, glitz and glib headlines, the grassroots Green revolution is making real headway and gaining unstoppable momentum.Suggest a correction