My main concern is the need to elect Andrew Cooper as Deputy Leader, and Liz Reason as Chair of GPex. But first, the main Leadership contest. My weblog of 16.6.2016 declaring myself a candidate then remains relevant
The Leadership two years ago was a foregone conclusion. “It mustn’t be a coronation” everyone cried. But it was. Caroline Lucas carried the almost unknown Jonathan Bartley with her with 90% of first preference votes.
Will it be similar this time? Jonathan has proved competent and media savvy, and Sian Berry is as near as possible to a Caroline Lucas clone – for better and for worse.
I do not need to dwell on Sian’s positive qualities: she too is adept at handling the media, has long experience as a high profile member of the Party, and additionally she is photogenic, something she once had to joke about in these gender equality times.
But like Caroline, Sian is a socialist. She is said to have links to ‘Compass’, which at the last general election used the ‘Progressive Alliance’ to good effect – for the Labour Party.
I stood for Leader in 2016 to try to bring the Green Party back to what it had been founded to do: combine saving the ecosphere with social justice. But limiting economic activity will entail redistribution, which inevitably appeals to the ‘left’.
In due course the Green Party attracted more people interested in social justice but not necessarily in the ecological raison d’être. This process was helped no end by Tony Blair’s Thatcherization of the Labour Party, so that by the 2015 General Election we gained some spectacular second places – in Labour strongholds.
I once read a comment by a Green Party member on Facebook “This environmental stuff is a millstone round our socialist necks”. Born into the Labour tribe, I thoroughly agree with social justice, but once it was clear that Jeremy Corbyn was going to do better than expected in the 2017 General election, the collapse in the Green vote was obvious, at least to anyone who was not socialist first and foremost. I saw no point in playing Cassandra. I just went to help in the Conservative held Isle of Wight, not Bristol or the more convenient Sheffield
But the strategy launched at the Bournemouth conference in March 2018, endorsed by the current Green Party Leadership, is still in denial about this. The one successful Green result – in the Isle of Wight – was completely ignored. My main hope in this leadership election hinges on Jonathan Bartley.
Briefly on the other two candidates, Leslie Rowe combines a much needed return to eco-concerns with a continued belief in Brexit. My ‘Remain’ vote was due to a belief that nominally democratic institutions needed to retain as much clout as possible as against transnational companies. That remains valid, despite Leslie being right that the EU is currently controlled by neoliberals. But due to subsequent revelations of difficulties over the Irish border – never mentioned during the campaign – and the clumsy handling of the negotiations, plus the fact that the Green Party is overwhelmingly pro-Remain, I cannot take Leslie’s candidacy seriously.
Shahrar Ali certainly has oratorical skills. But I have seen a u-tube video which I understand was originally issued as promotional [Link now in the Responses – Thank you Roger Lewis] which has been used to label the Green Party as extremist. That is what you would expect the Labour Party to do given the opportunity, but it was rather strident. However there was a comment on Shahrar’s 2016 Deputy Leadership bid questioning his ability to be a ‘team player’. One wonders about those moments when policy has to be invented at short notice.
Once upon a time Jonathan Bartley was a Conservative Party member and worked for John Major. I hoped therefore that he might be a moderating influence on Caroline Lucas’ passionate socialism. Instead, his strategy seems to have been to stick closely to Caroline’s hymn sheet and I cannot fault that. But will he now feel free to be his own man, whoever that turns out to be?
My questions at the hustings – and I hope others will ask them elsewhere –does he acknowledge the real reason for what happened in June 2017? We can, so must attract ex-conservatives without sacrificing social justice. But even if not, will he encourage the Party to put resources into electing Vix Lowthion in the Isle of Wight, as the Party did for Caroline in Brighton?
My vote will depend on his replies. At the moment, RON – Re-open Nominations – is not out of the question.