|A very human leader Pic: documentary.com|
Announcement from the Green Party
Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, has announced that she will not to stand for re-election in the Leadership elections, which take place this summer and culminate at the Green Party’s Autumn Conference.
During her hugely successful two-term, four-year stint as leader, Natalie has guided the Party through a period of extraordinary growth and increasing impact.
Under Natalie’s leadership, the Party has increased its number of MEPs by 50% in the 2014 European Elections, recorded its best-ever result in a General Election in 2015 (amassing over one million votes for the first time and saving 123 deposits compared to 4 in 2010) and, most recently, recorded its best-ever performance in London elections, where Greens are now the undisputed third party.
Membership of the Green Party of England and Wales has increased five-fold under Natalie’s watch, supported enormously by her efforts to engage with and inspire local and regional parties from Stroud to Solihull, Sunderland to St Ives.
The party broke in to the televised Leaders’ Debates ahead of the May 2015 General Election and Natalie used the high-profile media opportunities to share widely Green Party values and policies.
Reflecting on her successful spell at the helm, Natalie said:
I have been proud to lead a party through a period of phenomenal expansion and increased impact. With the support of our passionate members and supporters we have been able to achieve much in a relatively short period.Richard Mallender, Chair of the Green Party Executive, commented:
The Green Party offers a genuine alternative to the tired status quo and I am proud that Greens do politics differently.
There’s greatly increased public understanding that when you want the honest, caring, committed view – one that isn’t guided by the views of the latest focus group or fear of a tabloid backlash but by fundamental principles and values – you should come to the Green Party.
Looking to the future, in which I intend to remain fully engaged in Green Party politics, I’m confident the Green Party is going to become increasingly influential on the political scene. We’re the only party with a platform that recognises the essential interrelationship between economic and environmental justice – that we must have a society in which no one fears hunger or homelessness while we collectively live within the environmental limits of our one fragile planet.
On behalf of everyone in the Green Party I thank Natalie for her outstanding leadership over the past four years. Without Natalie we would not have been able to achieve all that we have achieved. I am delighted that Natalie will remain active in the party - her support will be invaluable to the new Leadership team as we continue to grow.Nominations for the Green Party Leadership elections open on 1st June 2016 and close on 30th June. A campaign period will run from 1 July until 24 July, at which point the one-month balloting period begins. The new Leadership team will be unveiled at the Green Party’s Autumn Conference in early September.
Note from Wembley Matters
The leadership of the Green Party is rather different from the more traditional leadership of other political parties. The Greens previously did not have leaders ,but 'Spokespeople', and the leadership model was only adopted after a vigorous debate.
However in many ways the leader is still a spokesperson as policy continues to be made by the twice yearly conference, with positions in between decided by an elected committee of the party. This means that the leader cannot make up policy on the hoof and causes problems when TV or radio interviewers expect immediate answers assuming the role is the same as that for traditional parties. The process is sometimes cumbersome but in my view more democratic.
With policy decided by Conference there is less scope for a leadership contest based on policy differences, although differences in emphasis will be significant. In some ways, Caroline Lucas, the only Green MP, has been more free to put forward policies such as the 'progressive alliance' and this creates some tension at times with some members wary of being bounced into post facto policy.
Within the party there are different perspectives ranging from 'deep greens' very much concerned with prioritising the environment and eco-socialists who see capitalism, by its very nature, as not being able to deal with the challenge of climate change. A particular issue that differentiates the green left from the Labour Party is the latters emphasis on economic growth, which is also the basis of capitalism's need for ever expanding markets. The eco-socialist left looks to a socially useful economy rather than a natural resources gobbling, climate change inducing, consumerist economy.
The Party's decision to give equal weight to environmental and social justice has informed the development of policy over last few years and contributed to the 'Green Surge' of new members in reaction to the neoliberalism of the Labour Party pre-Corbyn. The Green Party Trade Union Group and Green Left have been reaching out to sections of the labour movement. The Green Left Facebook has nearly 8,000 members and is a lively forum for eco-socialist ideas in the movement.
Inevitably perspectives on the Labour Party under Corbyn, assessment of Labour's developing policies on the environment, economy and voting reform will inform the Green Party's summer of debate, but the unique nature of the Green Party will shape the discussion.