The York Young Green Party has done a survey asking candidates for party leader or deputy various questions relating to class. The results are all interesting. However, amongst the more interesting findings are those on education. None of the four candidates for leader, and only one candidate for deputy, went to a Russell group ‘elite’ university. None had their places at school funded by their parents. Compare this to the most recent Labour leadership contest, where all five candidates attended Oxford or Cambridge.

Obviously this doesn’t mean that the party isn’t disproportionately middle class and white. We are. But it is an indication that, at the top, we are no worse than the Labour party. Which is heartening.

Perhaps just as important, though, is that all of the candidates for both positions engaged seriously with the survey, and almost all have been talking actively about this as a problem in the party both through the survey, and also through their broader campaigns.

The proposed solutions, of course, vary between candidates. When asked about quotas for working class people, they each come to different conclusions. Elsewhere, some candidates (the ones I was expecting not to vote for anyway) give answers I strongly disagree with. However, what I think is telling here is the willingness to talk about class. If ever there was a time when Greens saw such questions as out of date, it seems that almost all candidates for leadership positions now are have moved beyond such twaddle. And in talking about the problem, and debating solutions, we generate ideas, and we move the party forwards.

The Green Party has a problem. We are too white and too middle class. This has always been the case. Pleasingly, for the first time I can remember, we seem to be talking seriously about putting solutions to that problem front and centre. This is a huge step forwards.

We will find out soon enough who has won the Green Party leadership contest. But we already know that we will be the only English party represented in Parliament not to be led by an Oxbridge graduate. And we also know that this person will have a huge amount of work to do to lead the party in changing our class profile. Such work is never easy, because it involves asking many of us – including me – to think again about the privileges life has given us, and to consider how such privilege shapes both our power and our world view. But if a new leader can help pull us forwards, they will have changed the party for good.

Adam Ramsay

About Adam Ramsay

Adam is Co-Editor of Open Democracy UK and a green activist based in Edinburgh. He co-founded Bright Green in 2010.