Monday, 28 July 2008

Greens get going

Nominations close this Thursday for those hopefuls who are after the top job/s (leader/deputy leader/co-leaders) in the Green Party of England & Wales.

Last November Green Party members wisely voted to scrap the impotent posts of male & female principal speakers in favour of real leadership - just the sort of vanguard necessary to take green ideas forward. The new leader/s will have voting powers on the party's Executive. Having someone at the top will give the public a face to identify with ('That's that Green bloke'...'Oh, she's the Green woman') There's talk of adopting co-leaders, but what's the point of that? It will show voters that the Green's just can't shed that hippy image.

Having a SOLE leader will get more media attention. Look at Nigel Farage, the UKIP boss, he's never off the box and pops up on Radio 2 like clockwork - The media can only understand formal leadership.

As of today the candidates are not clear, but it's likely to be Caroline Lucas, Sian Berry, Darren Johnson and possibly Jenny Jones (the only name here that actively campaigned to retain the status quo) In terms of media savvyness it can only be Caroline. She will be a good, uniting influence between the leftists and the centrists. A victory for Berry, as a supporter of the influential Green Left faction, might lead to the portrayal of the Greens as hard left. Now, the Greens can certainly mop up the Labour vote and they've just started doing well in traditional Labour areas, but Berry at the helm could lead to a media backlash against the party, prompting a hemorrhaging of support in the suburbs.

It would be a mistake for the Greens to present themselves as an explicitly left-wing party. Green thought encompasses the entire political spectrum, a fine example of how politics must transcend left & right - Something that is desperately needed in the fight against the neocons, neolibs and their global empire building. So while there is much that is commendable about the manifestations of the Green Left, they must not be allowed to capture the soul of the Green Party. Berrocscir's Banner calls for a renaissance of the rightist and nationalist Greens, but not in preparation of civil war. A strong rightist tendency will help the Party to present itself as a pluralistic alternative to the black & white of left & right.

The result of the leadership ballot will be announced at Party Conference in September, when incidentally, one Ken Livingstone will be guest of honour. Whoever ends up the Daddy (or Momma)the Green Party looks to be taking its electoral work very seriously. Greens rightly know that standing in the maximum possible number of local seats translates into Green votes at national and EU level. The party has enough members and healthy enough infrastructure to stand anywhere, anytime. Smaller parties need to be selective, but the Greens have reached the critical mass - every seat must be contested. Interesting then that we're getting rumours that the Greens two MEPs are in danger of losing in next year's Euro poll...Well, I don't know - the Party managed to retain its two Greater London Assembly members back in May, despite some fierce competition. It really would be a blow to lose the Euro reps.
So, despite all the doom and gloom on the EU front, the Greens seem confident of picking up an MP or three come the General Election(if there's one before year end then sorry Greens - no chance, but if we've got another two years, then maybe!)This blog, deep down, thinks this is a bit of a tall order, but looking at the maths in the Green's target seats of Brighton Pavilion and Norwich South, well, they could just do it...couldn't they? Check out the Greens for Parliament site for all the details. Funny then, that all this ambition is not matched on the seat-tally. The Greens say they've got 140 candidates confirmed and hope for 300. They really need to listen to Sian Berry's call at last year's conference to work for a full slate. If they can work towards this achievable goal then the Greens really would have come of age.

We hear that the Libertarian Party continued to be a bit sloppy with the old paper work, not getting it in on time for Glasgow East. They did this in Henley. Will they go for the hat trick?

The Free England Party seem to be less rabid when it comes to Cornish types than other English Nationalists. They appear to be ready for dialogue if the Cornish nationalist movement reaches tipping point. This recognition that you can't force nationality on anyone who doesn't want it, is to be welcomed.