Monday, 14 May 2012

Wanted - a Green leader who combines electoral and campaigning politics

Caroline Lucas has announced that she will stand down as leader of the Green Party in September but will of course continue as the only Green MP, and a very effective one at that.

This could be a positive move for the political health of the Green Party, distributing leadership and drawing on the talent of the wider membership. but has the danger of the new leader being overshadowed by our MP. Certainly the demands of being an MP with the normal constituency case work load, the sole representative of the Greens in the Commons and the Leader are great and it is characteristic of Caroline's cool assessment skills that she has recognised that.

The demise of the Liberal Democrats, the knee-jerk resurgence of the Labour Party based on very little in policy terms, and the deepening economic and environmental crisis, demand long-term strategic thinking alongside grassroots activism.  Bringing these together will be a major task for the new leader/s (co-leaders are possible in the Green Party and a positive possibility).

A leader outside the House of Commons will recognise that Greens combine electoral and campaigning politics.

Incidentally, Jenny Jones, on Twitter has said she will not be a candidate for the leadership.

Caroline's statement

In September 2012, Caroline Lucas MP will reach the end of her second term as national Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, and has announced today that she will not be seeking re-election for another two-year term, in order to broaden opportunities for the range of talent in the Party and to raise the profiles of others aspiring to election.

Caroline Lucas said: "I'm hugely honoured to have served as the first Leader of the Green Party and I'm proud that during the four years of my term, we've moved Green politics forward to a higher level, with the Party by far the most influential it has ever been. We've seen significant breakthroughs in winning our first seat at Westminster and gaining our first ever local council in Brighton and Hove. These were followed by further breakthroughs onto new Councils in the recent local elections, which were among the most successful we've ever had, as well as establishing ourselves as the third party, ahead of the LibDems, in the elections for London Mayor.

"I look forward to continuing to do all I can in my very demanding role as the MP for Brighton Pavilion, representing my constituents and defending them against the Coalition Government's disastrous economic policies and its refusal to accept its environmental and social responsibilities. I will also be able to dedicate even more of my work to the political frontline, putting the Green case for change in Parliament and in all circles of national political debate."

Cllr Darren Johnson, London Assembly Member, said: "Caroline has made a huge impact in her time as Green Party Leader and has helped shift Green politics from the margins to the mainstream of British political life. She will be an extremely hard act to follow but this is an ideal time to allow new talent to come forward."

Jenny Jones, London Assembly Member and recent Green Mayoral Candidate said:
"The Green Party has made some massive breakthroughs in the past two years, since having Caroline as our Leader, in Parliament, in Brighton and most recently in London, where we are now the third party behind the Conservatives and Labour. Caroline's decision not to seek re-election at this point is entirely in keeping with Green principles: it's a strong move, allowing other talented people to come through and to take the Green Party even further forward. She has set a superb example of how to lead. Whoever is elected in her place has a tough act to follow."

Nominations for leadership candidates are now open within the Party and will close towards the end of June. The new Leader (or Co-leaders) will take up the two year post in early September. No nominations have yet been received.

Caroline Lucas added: "We're lucky to have a wealth of capability and experience in our Party. Now feels like the right time to step aside, to allow more of that ability to come forward and help the party to grow. I offer my very best wishes to the next Leader, whoever they may be."

Read what Jim Jepps has to say HERE

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