Features

Interview with Caroline Lucas

Pizza Girl was happy to help her neighbour’s 12 year old daughter secure an interview with the delightful Leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas. Caroline was only too pleased to help Quanita with her media studies project. I think you will agree from her probing questions that Quanita has a promising career in journalism ahead of her.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

I see from your website that you are a doctor. When did you decide to give up medicine for politics?

I don’t think I’d make a very good medical doctor (I’m far too squeamish!). Doctors don’t just study medicine. I studied English Literature at University and wrote a study about women’s literature, which enabled me to gain a doctorate.

As a member of the European Parliament you spend a fair bit of time in Brussels. What does that city have to offer in particular that Brighton and Hove could benefit from having?

Brussels has delicious chocolate! It also has a thoroughly modern attitude to transport, with a better, cheaper public transport system and less aggression towards cyclists and pedestrians: we could learn a lot from that. But I also think the question works the other way round: what does Brighton and Hove have to offer that Brussels could benefit from having? Well, obviously the seaside, the Pavilion and the Lanes, but also some great people who enjoy doing things differently – there’s a real buzz in this city that is rare to find in such a small place.

If Barak Obama were to come to Brighton to meet with you, where would you take him to eat? What questions would you ask him and what bus would you have to get from there back to the station to see him off?

Terre a Terre is perfect for a very special occasion – and you don’t get much more special than going out to dinner with the President of the United States! Since Brighton is the veggie capital of the UK, I think his taste buds would be in for a treat. I’d ask him if he always knew he would achieve what he set out to do, even when his campaign just started out in the backyards of Des Moines, the living rooms of Concord, and the front porches of Charleston. Our campaign began in July 2007 in the front rooms of people’s houses in Brighton and Hove, and we have come a very long way since then. I’d never take a bus from Terre a Terre to the station, it’s just a short walk up East Street, North Street and Queens Road, but if Obama’s feet hurt then we’d take the number 7 bus, which would take us directly to the station.

I have seen Spinal Tap 28 times. What film have you seen more times than any other? Why do you like it and did you see it at the Duke of Yorks?

My favourite film of all time has to be La Vita e Bella/Life is Beautiful. It’s incredibly moving, and Roberto Benigni is fantastic. I’ve got it on video, and have watched it loads of times (but maybe not quite 28 times yet).

If you found three million pounds in the street as you turned left from Queens Road into Upper North Street and only had a day to spend it in Brighton what would you buy?

If I turned left I wouldn’t be in Upper North Street, but anyway, I don’t think I could spend three million pounds in just one day. Do you think I could buy the Pavilion for that much? Probably not!

Like Barak Obama you will make history when you become Britain’s first Green Member of Parliament. Will you miss getting the train to Brussels each weekend?

I spend a big chunk of my time travelling between Brussels and Brighton, so I definitely won’t be missing that! I’m looking forward to spending more time with my kids, and because London and Brighton are so close, this will be almost doubtlessly be the case.

You are well known for your natural sense of style. Would this preclude you from ever becoming a Lord like Steve Bassam or do you like ermine as a fabric?

Thank you, I didn’t realise that! I don’t think I’m eccentric enough to be a Lord! In my opinion, the House of Lords should not exist in its current state: it should be replaced by a wholly elected second chamber. And I definitely don’t support the fur trade, so I hope the ermine in question is artificial!

If you had to star in a hit musical what would it be and what part would you play and why?

I’d star in ‘The Color Purple’, and I’d play Shug Avery, because I’ve always wanted to be a blues singer (shame I can’t sing!).

If you were not a professional politician what other job would you do or would you go back into medicine?

If I weren’t a politician then I’d probably like to be a journalist. Or maybe go back to doing what I used to do – working for a charity like Oxfam, and helping organise overseas aid and development.

What annoys you most about the British media’s attitude to Green Politics?

That they don’t give us enough coverage. And when they do, it’s all about our environmental policies – never about taxation, education, the NHS – actually we’ve got quite a lot to say on all these topics.

A few years ago a lot of politicians and celebs were asked about the horrors of young people addicted to Cake. Is this something you have an opinion on?

I think you’re referring to the TV satire in which the politicians and celebs were ridiculed for being quick to repeat a pseudo-scientific warning without really knowing what they were talking about. I think it’s really important for politicians to listen closely to the experts and get all sides of every story before coming to public conclusions – especially where something as important as drugs is concerned.

Do you think the West Pier should a) Be burnt down? b) Left as it is? c) Sold to the American who bought the Old London Bridge? d) Other?

The West Pier is a Grade I listed building, so I think it should be restored, and take its place alongside the Pavilion as a landmark Brighton building. I think that’s your fourth answer – doing so would create some much-needed jobs and give a major boost to our tourism industry as well.

What was your favourite toy as a child?

I loved my teddy bear, Bruno, who still gives an alarming growl when you tip him up in a certain way. I also really enjoyed playing with my brother’s train set – I was always trying to find solutions to make the trains run a little better – so I guess it was always a bit predictable that I’d go into Green politics!

Have you ever had Acupuncture and what do you generally feel about alternative medicine? Could complementary medicines save the NHS a lot of money, say £8 billion?

I have never had Acupuncture, but I’d like to see a ‘mainstreaming’ and an increased availability of alternative and holistic health treatments. I certainly think that prescription charges should be abolished throughout the UK. They raise little revenue (around £400 million a year), discourage some from taking prescribed medicines and operate under a system that is confused and particularly discriminatory towards mental illness sufferers. I would also like to see free eye tests and dental treatment for all.

Besides Barack Obama who is the most famous person you have actually sat next to?

Brad Pitt. Only joking! Well, I’ve never got to sit next to a US president, but I have managed a vice-president, Al Gore, and a former Russian president, Mikhail Gorbachev (though not at the same time!)

With you as our MP and the local Green Party winning every seat in Brighton and Hove, how would you make sure you were accountable to the voters of Brighton and Hove.

I’d hold regular surgeries, so that I listened to the problems and concerns of my constituents, and I would (as I do now in my role as MEP) act on their behalf, and respond to them promptly.

Would you be interested in joining the Southwick Players’ next production at the Old Barn Theatre?

What do you mean by ‘joining?’ I love the theatre, but I’m not an actor – and I’d be too busy learning my lines for Prime Minister’s Question Time when I’m elected as MP!

What question do you think I had a missed opportunity by not asking and what is the answer to it?

What would be the first thing I aim to achieve once in Westminster?

To change the voting system to make it fairer, introduce proportional representation, to make sure everyone’s voice is heard, and lower the voting age to 16.

Our thanks to Caroline for being such a good sport and giving such candid insights into her world.

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