Natalie Bennett A 'Fantastic' Leader, Says Green MP Caroline Lucas

Green MP Caroline Lucas has moved to support party leader Natalie Bennett, amid suggestions of a rift between the two women.

Last week, Bennett was forced to apologise after stumbling her way through an interview on LBC on the morning of the party's election campaign launch. Her performance was dubbed one of the worst political interviews ever given.

In the fallout from the interview, there was speculation there was a division at the top of the party between Bennett and Lucas - the party's former leader and only MP.

Introducing Bennett to the Green Party conference in Liverpool today, Lucas said she was "proud to call her my colleague and my friend" and praised Bennett for "doing a fantastic job".

Bennett's speech to party activists today, in which she said a vote for the Greens was a vote for "hope not fear", will also likely have gone some way to putting the episode behind her.

The party said its manifesto would be published before the end of March and will include advocating free social care for all over 65s.

"Your vote can change the face of Britain. It can end the failed austerity experiment, end the spiteful blaming of the poor, the sick, the vulnerable for the mistakes of the wealthy," she said.

"This election can be a turning point in history. The moment where we can deliver a better Britain, a Britain which works for its people. A Britain which cares. Vote for what you believe in, vote for the policies of hope not fear, vote for policies that work for the common good not just the few, and Britain could be a very different country on the 8th of May.

She added: "We, the Green Party, can be the agents of change. Real change. It is time for Green politics - the politics of the future."