Very soon Green Party members will be receiving ballot papers for the election for Leader, Deputy Leader and GPEx posts. Understandably, most attention will be focused on the election for Party Leader. The leadership election was precipitated by the decision of our MP Caroline Lucas not to stand again after completing a two year term. As I said in a previous post on this issue:
"..party leader Caroline played a blinder as an advocate for the Party's policies of social justice, economic regeneration, fighting climate change, and support for the public sector. As leader, she is going to be sorely missed, and hard to replace..." I don't want to get bogged down in the rules but the rules state that for the leader and the deputy, each post must be filled by a person of the opposite gender. So if a male wins the leadership, the deputy must be female and vice versa. Voting is by STV. In this post I want to focus on the leadership election.
There are four candidates; Peter Cranie, Natalie Bennett, Pippa Bartolotti and Romayne Phoenix. All of the candidates have put their case, both on their own websites, Facebook, and through party hustings. As far as the latter is concerned, arrangements for hustings were haphazard to say the least, and little account was made by the organisers of the fact that some of the candidates might not be able to attend. In fact, not all the candidates could attend all of the hustings. Next time we need to do much better in ensuring we have an organised programme of hustings, including online hustings.
I have made no bones in this blog about the fact that I am an ecosocialist and that I believe that the Green Party must be a radical party or otherwise it has very little useful purpose. We are fighting against economic and an ecological crises, both of which are linked, and an increasing democratic deficit. 'Business as usual' is no longer an option and the Party needs to be able to get its radical message across in an effective way. This is not the time to simply pick a leader who we think will appeal to disaffected Liberal Democrats as some in the Party have suggested. We need to make an electoral breakthrough to bring about change, and we can only do that by having a leader who, like Caroline, can argue our radical case and make their voice heard.
So it will come as no surprise that I believe that Romayne Phoenix is best placed to do this. Romayne fits the bill very well as an experienced and active, campaigning Party member, who has been an elected councillor, GPEx member, and very effective platform speaker through her role as chair of the Coalition of Resistance. Like Caroline, she is also well aware of the kind of message we need to get across to a disillusioned electorate, and has clearly put herself at the front of the fight against austerity in a way that none of the other candidates have been able to do.
Having said that, I have taken time to study the statements and views of the other candidates, and there can be no doubt that they are making all the right noises in terms of growing the membership, improving party organisation and getting more Greens elected. Nothing wrong with that. Peter Cranie has a very good, relaxed, media presence which will be popular amongst many Party members, and is probably seen as a safe pair of hands, and the favourite to win. My problem is that I'm not hearing enough from any of them about that radical edge that I have been talking about, how to promote the real alternative that the Green Party has to offer, and crucially, the kind of policies that support that alternative.
I also like that fact that Romayne and Will are standing as a team on the same platform, and I believe that if they are both elected that will greatly strengthen the Party. I have met Will and I was very impressed both by his down-to-earth approach and the key role he has played in the electoral success the Party has had in the West Midlands. I'd urge you to vote for both of them and as you can see for the video they have made they are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. If you want to know more about their views visit their website here.