On the first day of the new Parliament, Green MP Caroline Lucas made a timely choice to draw this year’s City of Literature strand of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival to a close.
Returned as the party’s only MP despite it gathering more than a million votes nationwide, changing the voting system was just one of the topics aired at the discussion and reading at Norwich Cathedral Hostry.
Lucas is an engaging speaker, with a warmth of tone sadly lacking in many politicians (and indeed some authors): she genuinely seemed pleased to be there, and pleased to discuss ideas.
It was something of a shame then that Norwich South Green candidate Lesley Grahame took on most of the chairing duties, lending a slight love-in air to proceedings; a more inquisitive style might have got more out of Lucas.
We heard her talk about the frustrating anachronisms and backroom deals that dominate Parliament, but she wasn’t pushed to put forward any alternatives. She talked about her personal belief that electoral pacts might be necessary to benefit left-leaning parties, but how that might work in a landscape that has seen the Liberal Democrats slaughtered for entering a coalition wasn’t questioned.
Lucas is an articulate advocate for change, but that requires more than quiet acquiescence; good ideas are made great by taking on, and overcoming, challenge.